Transcript of the November 8, 2018 meeting of the House Of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities – Day 2 of the Standing Committee’s Clause-by-Clause Consideration of Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act


Transcript of the November 8, 2018 meeting of the House Of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities – Day 2 of the Standing Committee’s Clause-by-Clause Consideration of Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

Notice of meeting Amended

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA)

42nd Parliament, 1st Session

Meeting 124

Thursday, November 8, 2018, 8:00 a.m.Amended

Room 415, Wellington Building, 197 Sparks Street

Televised

Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada

CLAUSE-BY-CLAUSE CONSIDERATION

Witnesses

Department of Employment and Social Development

  • James Van Raalte, Director General, Accessibility Secretariat
  • Benoît Gendron, Director, Accessibility Secretariat
  • Erik Lapalme, Senior Policy Analyst, Accessibility Secretariat

Clerk of the Committee

Stephanie Feldman (613-996-1542)

2018-11-06 11:07 a.m.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities

EVIDENCE

Thursday, November 8, 2018

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

(0800)

[English]

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow (Foothills, CPC)):

It’s good to see everyone again. I missed all of you. It’s been at least a minute since we saw each other.

Once again, I will go through the introductions for those who are new guests to our committee.

Today’s meeting is on C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada. The objective of today’s meeting is to resume the committee’s clause-by-clause consideration of this bill.

I would like to take a moment to remind those participating in the proceedings as well as those observing the proceedings in person or on video that the committee adopted a motion on September 18 that included instructions for the clerk to explore options to allow for the full participation of all witnesses and members of the public on this study. As a result, the committee has made arrangements to make all meetings in relation to the study of Bill C-81 as accessible as possible in a variety of ways. This includes providing sign language interpretation and near real-time closed captioning in this room.

Please note that both American sign language and Quebec sign language are being offered to our audience. For those who would like to watch the American sign language interpretation, please sit on the benches to my left. For those who would like to watch the Quebec sign language interpretation, please sit on the benches to my right.

In addition, please note that the first two rows of benches have been reserved for those who wish to avail themselves of these interpretation services. Screens displaying a near real-time closed captioning have also been set up, with the English text to my left and the French text to my right. The sign language interpreters in the room are also being video recorded for the eventual broadcast of this meeting on ParlVu through the committee’s website.

In light of these arrangements, the committee would like to ask, if you need to leave the room during the meeting, please do not walk in front of the sign language interpreters. Instead, please use the extremities of the room. In addition, we would ask that those in the room remain seated as much as possible during the meeting to ensure that everyone in the audience can clearly see the sign language interpretation. Finally, if a member of the audience requires assistance at any time, please notify a member of the staff or the committee clerk.

Once again, I would like to welcome our officials from the Department of Employment and Social Development, James Van Raalte, director general, accessibility secretariat; Benoît Gendron, director, accessibility secretariat; and Erik Lapalme, senior policy analyst, accessibility secretariat.

We will now continue with the clause-by-clause consideration.

I want to let everyone on the committee know that we’re going to try to get done by one or two o’clock, before question period. According to the clerk, our sign language interpreters will only be here until 6 p.m. today. That gives us a deadline there as well. I know we are going to try to finish earlier than that.

With that in mind, if you don’t feel you have to read out some clauses in the amendments, if it’s pretty straightforward, we’ll try to move through those as quickly as possible.

We will now pick up where we left off.

(On clause 21)

The Chair: We were on clause 21, PV-6.

(0805)

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Mr. Dan Ruimy (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, Lib.):

Chair, just for confirmation, with the motion we passed that one o’clock was the deadline and after one o’clock we would just read and go through, is there a plan to stay until six o’clock?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

According to the motion, today is open. We have that motion on file.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Maybe I’m misunderstanding.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

If we can be done by one…but we’ve only gone through 20 clauses.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

The debate on the amendments will go until one o’clock.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Right, but the votes could take until past two, depending on how far we get.

It’s not going to be open for debate or anything like that; it’s just that the voting could take us past two.

Moving on to amendment PV-6 on clause 21, is there any discussion?

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte (Edmonton Griesbach, CPC):

I was voting.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

The legal counsel was just telling me that CPC-20 is pretty much identical to the previous amendment. Because we would be voting on Green Party amendment PV-6, CPC-20 would not be tabled. If you wanted to comment on CPC-20, I would do it now.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle (Windsor—Tecumseh, NDP):

Mr. Chair, it’s important for us to have as much independence as possible for the organizations that are going to be established under Bill C-81. Some independence from the minister is important, and that’s reflected in both of these amendments.

I just want to say, in regard to PV-6, that I know Ms. May would be here to speak to these motions herself, but she did have to get home for the Kristallnacht commemorations that are taking place.

It does reflect how important it is to all of the members here that we have some independence in the agencies that are going to be established for the work that they’re going to do.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Ms. Hardcastle.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 21 agreed to)

(On clause 22)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We now move to Green Party amendment PV-7.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, once again we see the importance of having timelines reflected and our expectations for the mandate of Bill C-81 being carried out in a reasonable fashion with this amendment.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 22 agreed to)

(On clause 23)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have CPC-21.

Ms. Falk.

(0810)

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster, CPC):

Basically, clause 23 would be amended by:

(1.1) The Chair is to be appointed on a full-time basis and the other directors are to be appointed on a part-time basis.

This is just to make sure that this is a full-time position, and it should be a full-time position with the substantial work that is involved.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Again, Ms. Hardcastle, yours is identical.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Yes. I believe it is important for us to articulate in this bill that it is a full-time position due to the importance of that place.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We move to Green Party amendment PV-8.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Is this going to cancel out other ones?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, it will, amendment CPC-22.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Okay, based on that, may I speak to it, then?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Absolutely.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Basically, this would provide fixed-term appointments for CASDO directors, with removal based on behaviour or competence standard.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On CPC-22.1, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Basically the amendment is as follows:

The directors are to be appointed no later than six months after the day on which this subsection comes into force.

Again, as we reiterated last night, our stakeholders who have flown from all over the country to come as witnesses expressed their concern and the importance for timelines. This would just be respecting the testimony that we heard.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any other discussion?

Seeing none, I’ll call the vote.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Could we have a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will now move to CPC-23. If CPC-23 is moved, CPC-24 cannot be moved due to consistency.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I know from testimony we have heard there was a varying degree of recommendations from witnesses. Some organizations wanted to have full representation; others were okay with the 50.1. We are suggesting an amendment that two-thirds of all the directors of CASDO be persons with disabilities.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Are there any further comments on CPC-23?

Ms. Falk again.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Sorry, it’s really early. My nap was short.

Also, with regard to testimony that we heard, the fact that 40% of indigenous people have or will have a disability within their lifetime, it is also, we believe, important there be at least one indigenous person on the board representing indigenous people with disabilities.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Seeing no further comments, I’ll call the vote.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We’d like a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings ])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ll move to CPC-24.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

The amendment states:

that at all times, as far as possible, one of the directors is an Indigenous person; and

Again, it’s that we have at a minimum one person on the CASDO board who is an indigenous person who has a disability.

(0815)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on CPC-24?

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I think that this is so important. We heard in testimony that indigenous people weren’t even referenced in this bill. With all the consultation that was done and the nation-to-nation relationship this government has, I would think it’s imperative that there be support for this amendment.

Thank you.

We would like a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will now move to LIB-12.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long (Saint John—Rothesay, Lib.):

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good morning to everybody.

During our witnesses’ presenting, I asked a lot about having a diversity of disabilities represented on the board. We would like to add:

(c) the importance of having directors that are representative of the diversity of disabilities faced by Canadians.

It’s a separate lens, so we’d like it just as a paragraph (c), not added to paragraph (b).

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, this is more innocuous language added to innocuous language. We just defeated amendments that would have been more specific about the two-thirds and actually added indigenous peoples. The language that we actually need to enforce your intent here has been defeated and this is more innocuous language.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 23 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is everybody okay with applying the vote on clauses 24 and 25?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 24 and 25 agreed to)

(On clause 26)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We have amendment PV-9.

Are there any comments on PV-9? I’m seeing none.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): No amendments were made to clause 26, so could I get unanimous consent for clauses 26, 27, 28 and 29 to be done together?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 26 to 29 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 30)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): That gets us to PV-10.

Are there any comments on PV-10?

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Did we do PV-9?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We just did it. It was defeated.

We’ll call the vote on PV-10.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’re on CPC-25.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Basically, CPC-25 amends this clause for a term of up to eight years. This would provide that the CASDO chief executive officer’s term, subject to renewal, is for up to eight years instead of five. To secure talented candidates, these candidates should be able to have an assurance of a longer term in office. Moreover, especially in the early years, the new CEO could acquire expertise that Canada won’t want to lose.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 30 agreed to)

(On clause 31)

(0820)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’re on CPC-26.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Is it clause 31 that we’re looking at?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That’s the clause.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Right. Basically, we feel that the bill should be amended to require the minister to designate an acting replacement for the CEO within 90 days of the CEO’s absence or incapacity, unless the CEO is known to be returning to the office within 90 days. We would ask for a wording change there. It’s pretty straightforward.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 31 agreed to)

(On clause 32)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’re on to CPC-27.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

The amendment proposes subclause 32(1.1).

We feel the bill should be amended to require the CASDO CEO to consult with the CASDO board when selecting membership of an advisory committee to assist CASDO with developing accessibility standards. Again, it’s pretty straightforward.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 32 agreed to)

(On clause 33)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’re on to CPC-28.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

The amendment states:

Officers and employees must be provided with appropriate training in matters related to accessibility.

I think this is a recurring theme. Even when this committee studied Bill C-65, we saw the importance of training. It’s part of that education component. We should amend this clause so that all officers and employees receive training on accessibility. Even though it seems redundant, and a cliché, even, it’s important to make sure we don’t make any presumptions or assumptions that people have all the education they need. It’s about being able to provide that extra top-up.

(Amendment negatived)

(Clause 33 agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now have amendment CPC-29.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We’re asking that Bill C-81 be amended by adding before line 18 on page 12 the following new clause:

33.1(1) In carrying out its mandate, the Standards Organization must, on a continuing basis,
(a) hold public consultations on the accessibility standard it should next develop and on any proposed accessibility standard; and
(b) make available to the public progress reports respecting the development of accessibility standards.
(2) The Standards Organization must make available to the public the minutes of meetings of the board of directors and of advisory or other committees.
(3) For the purposes of subsection (2), the minutes of meetings must include the text of all proposed accessibility standards considered at the meeting.

This is basically adding a level of transparency and accountability to the CASDO board.

(0825)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Again, Ms. Hardcastle, yours is very similar. Do you want to speak to this now?

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Yes, Mr. Chair.

In order to increase or ensure the transparency, it’s not unreasonable to expect the standards organization to have public meetings, to make public their minutes, to make public their progress reports and to include the text of any standards that are being deliberated on at meetings. That’s very reasonable to expect. Unfortunately, unless it’s articulated, it may not happen and that transparency may not be achieved.

(Amendment negatived)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I will now ask for unanimous consent for the vote to be applied for clauses 34 and 35 as is. Is everybody okay with that?

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Agreed.

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk: Clause 34 was not amended?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

It was not amended.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We’re running these two together?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, clauses 34 and 35 together.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

No.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

You want to do them separately?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Yes.

(Clause 34 agreed to)

(Clause 35 agreed to)

(On clause 36)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That brings us to clause 36 and NDP-7.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Here again, this amendment is a way for us to ensure transparency:

The Minister must publish the report on the departmental website within 10 days after the day on which the report is received by

(Amendment negatived)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have clauses 36, 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 that are as is. I’m going to ask for unanimous consent to apply the vote to all of those.

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 36 to 41 inclusive agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Look at what we can get done. There’s not as much fight in everybody in the morning.

(On clause 42)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We will go to LIB-13.

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey (Egmont, Lib.):

Mr. Chair, these are consequential as a result of the amendments made and approved in LIB-5 and LIB-6.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have CPC-30.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

This clause would be amended to say:

The accessibility plan must include a statement on how it will contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers.

Basically, it’s adding a provision requiring accessibility plans to relate to the purpose of the act and to be prepared and implemented in accordance with the principles of the act. Plans should address how they will contribute to achieving a Canada without barriers by the date specified in the act. These changes would strengthen the effectiveness of the accessibility plans and help to ensure that barrier identification, prevention and removal address issues of intersectionality and poverty.

(Amendment negatived)

(0830)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have NDP-8.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, once again, this amendment is just underscoring the need for the effectiveness of Bill C-81 moving forward, and the accessibility commissioner is the rightful office that should be notified, not the CRTC.

Basically the CRTC is enforcing and notifying itself where they need to be answerable to the accessibility commissioner.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Ms. Hardcastle.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle, you get two in a row. We have NDP-9.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

There are several of these.

I do want to underscore that the way it’s articulated here, because it is federal jurisdictions, these will be people who work in the public sector and have a collective agreement so we need to be able to work that in just for the logistics of being able to carry out these specifics. For people who have collective agreements, these agreements also need to be included in the process.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on NDP-9?

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Could we have a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 7; yeas 1 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will now move to LIB-14.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, when we had witnesses before the committee, there was a concern expressed that regulated entities are not required to develop an effective accessibility plan. Even before regulations are in place, this amendment which I will read in a second will help ensure that accessibility plans developed under the act are effective and consistent with the principles that define our approach to accessibility.

I move that Bill C-81, in clause 42, be amended by adding after line 3 on page 17 the following:

(9) The regulated entity must take into account the principles set out in section 6 when it prepares an accessibility plan or an updated version of its accessibility plan.

(Amendment agreed to)

(Clause 42 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair, we’re moving quite quickly. Is it okay if we have a three-minute suspension just so we can catch up?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Sure. Is everybody okay with that?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ll suspend for three minutes.

(0830)

(0840)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’re back.

I’m sure everybody is refreshed after a few minutes’ break. Another handful of bacon will get everyone’s energy up for sure.

(On clause 43)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We now move to clause 43, on which we have NDP-10.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, any regulated entity that is expected to comply with this accessibility act and seeks an exemption or is going to fall short of the mark doesn’t report to the CRTC in this case but reports to the accessibility commissioner.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Hogg.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg (South Surrey—White Rock, Lib.):

I’m in agreement with a number of the principles that have come forward, but the procedure or the placement of them becomes questionable, whether it’s legislation, regulation, or as we heard yesterday, with respect to accreditation and the other areas and responsibilities that they fall in.

As a principle, a number of things that have been said are positive. I just don’t believe they should be placed in the legislation. I believe they should be followed through another place. I just need to clarify that for my own sense of well-being—which, of course, goes with the bacon.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 43 agreed to)

(On clause 44)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have NDP-11.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, I do appreciate that we’re going to have nuanced and finessed regulations that are going to be constantly evolving. This is the foundation. This is historic legislation that needs to create the strong foundation of how this is going to take place.

Once again, it is extremely important that the accessibility commissioner be the one who is notified. That has to be in the legislation. That is foundational; that is not regulation.

(0845)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion?

Do you want to wait until they have more bacon and then we’ll see?

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Good one.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

If not, I’ll call the vote.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Ms. Hardcastle, on NDP-12.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I saw that this was not recognized throughout. As we heard from testimony and specifically from PSAC, sometimes what’s happening with the public sector employees is that there are already collective agreements in place with a process. We need to include that in the legislation. It has to be recognized that there is a framework in place under collective agreements for most of these employees that creates a synergy.

When you include them, it does create that synergy. If you don’t include them, it becomes conflict and confusion, and we don’t need that when we have a new piece of legislation and new offices. It’s better to be clear and articulate that collective agreements are part of the process; they’re not separate.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 44 agreed to)

(On clause 45)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have LIB-15.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, this change is for clarity. The amendment ensures the bill is consistent and clear in the language it uses, particularly in granting regulation-making authority, regarding publication of feedback processes to the different regulators under this act.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

They shouldn’t be making any regulation. It should be the accessibility commissioner who does that. That’s why this has to be articulated in legislation.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will now move to LIB-16.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Currently, there is no regulation-making authority set out in Bill C-81 regarding requirements for feedback processes. This amendment will ensure regulators are granted the authority to make regulations in relation to feedback processes.(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will move to LIB-16.1.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, this is about timelines. This amendment will address stakeholder concerns about the delayed regulations, by creating an obligation for all bodies with regulation-making authority under this act to have their first regulations under the act within two years of the act coming into force.

We think the amendment makes the bill stronger and gives—

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

The CRTC—

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

—there’s going to be one for each.

We think this gives the bill a little more teeth for timely implementation.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 45 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 46)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I will start with LIB-17.

(0850)

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Excuse me, Mr. Chair.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I believe that clause 46 must be omitted from the bill. My understanding in the procedure is that I could not put that in the form of an amendment, so I have to make that statement now. I hope I’m correct in this process now.

Clause 46 must be omitted from the bill. This clause permits the minister, the CRTC, or the CTA to exempt organizations from complying with requirements to prepare and publish accessibility plans, create feedback processes and develop progress reports.

For all of the stakeholders who have testified and given us their input and from consultation across the country, that speaks for itself.

I’d like that exempt please.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle, you’ll have your opportunity to make that vote when we vote on that clause.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Okay.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Now, if LIB-17 is adopted, it will make CPC-31 unable to be moved because of consistency.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We want to put a three-year limit on exemptions.

This amendment recognizes that accessibility solutions evolve over time. It also prevents entities from slipping through the cracks, thereby ensuring that everyone does their part to achieve an accessible Canada. Exemptions can’t be unlimited, so that’s why we want to move this one forward.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

From what I understand, if LIB-17 is passed it will cancel out—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

CPC-31.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Okay.

If the bill allows for regulated entities to be exempted from complying with accessibility requirements and if exemptions are to be granted, the reasons should be made public and they should be time-limited.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Yes, we agree.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

LIB-17 and CPC-31 are quite similar. There’s a difference in the timelines. The difference between the two is that the exemption is either five years or three years.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I’d also like to clarify, Mr. Chair, there is nothing that says that the reasoning be made public.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That is correct.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Through you, Mr. Chair, to the member who made mention of stronger…. I was wondering if he could explain why their amendment is stronger.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We’re saying that you can’t have unlimited exemptions and that there’s an automatic trigger after three years. I think yours said five.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

There’s no mention of making anything public.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

We’ll address that in the next one.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Yes.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

For Ms. Falk’s benefit, if one of the next two—LIB-17 or LIB-18—are adopted, CPC-31 will be inadmissible. If you want to try to make an amendment to LIB-17 or LIB-18, you would have to do that before.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We’re on LIB-17.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, but she can do it to LIB-18 as well. LIB-18 will be the same issue.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’ll move to LIB-18. If it is adopted, CPC-31 is inadmissible due to consistency.

(0855)

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Mr. Chair, as we were just discussing, there’s always a need for additional transparency. This seeks to require and make public why the exemptions are there. This ensures transparency. We heard that if there were going to be exemptions, they need to know why they’re there and the rationale behind them. The two together actually make it stronger. It speaks directly to it.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair, we will be voting down clause 46 in Bill C-81. The bill allows for regulated entities to be exempted from complying with accessibility requirements. There is no principled reason why some organizations should be exempted. Any exemptions will weaken the overall purpose of the act.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

We don’t believe in exemptions in this. This section needs to be eliminated entirely.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion before I call the vote on clause 46?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I’d like a recorded vote.

(Clause 46 as amended agreed to: yeas 5; nays 3)

(On clause 47)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

The first amendment is LIB-19.

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Mr. Chair, this is just a continuation of ensuring consistency with previous amendments.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’re on CPC-32.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Mr. Chair, we feel the bill in clause 47 should be amended by adding after line 21 on page 19 the following:

(1.1) The accessibility plan must include a statement on how it will contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers.(Amendment negatived)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to LIB-20.

Mr. Sangha.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha (Brampton Centre, Lib.):

Mr. Chair, we prefer to withdraw this motion.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much.

Is there any further discussion on LIB-20?

Oh, you want to withdraw it. Sorry, I thought you said you want to move on with the motion.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

That’s fine.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Okay, we’ll move to NDP-13.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Can we suspend for just a minute?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, we’ll suspend for a minute.

(0855)

(0900)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Okay, we’ll reconvene.

Just so we’re clear, LIB-20 has been withdrawn.

We’re still on clause 47, but we move to NDP-13.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Has LIB-20 been withdrawn?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

LIB-20 has been withdrawn, yes.

On NDP-13, Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, the government claims to place importance on its relationship with labour. This is an example of having public service employees, from PSAC in particular, talk to us about this issue. In most cases, the people living with disabilities who are coming forward will be doing so through a bargaining agent, because they are part of a collective agreement. They are part of, for instance, the PSAC. Therefore, we need to acknowledge that collective agreements are a part of this.

The interface that will take place because of this legislation will include collective agreements, and it must be articulated.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Next is LIB-21.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, this is consequential to the amendments we made in LIB-14. I can read it, but it’s basically the same.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

No. I appreciate that.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Chair, before we vote on clause 47, could I have consent to go back just to clarify on LIB-19, it was a subamendment? I’m not sure it that was clear when it was voted on. I can read in the exact text.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

There was a subamendment to LIB-19?

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

It was referenced as a subamendment.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We meant to do a subamendment, but we didn’t. So we’re looking for consent to—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

So you need unanimous consent to go back.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Yes.

An hon. member: No.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

No, you don’t have it. Sorry.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Can we enter that as a separate amendment? No? Do we just leave it?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We leave it if it is too similar.

(0905)

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We’ll withdraw it.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Good decision.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

You’re welcome.

Now we’ll have the vote to carry clause 47 as amended.

(Clause 47 as amended agreed to)

(Clause 48 agreed to)

(On clause 49)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We have NDP-14.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, once again, as I discussed earlier, we have an example where we have the opportunity for synergy without potential conflict. A regulated body in preparation of its progress report should be enlisting the collective agreement, should be enlisting the bargaining agent to prepare this report.

Otherwise, you’re going against a current. If we’re trying to move this legislation forward and have it be impactful and ensure that we are evolving, then we have to include a very important component of the employer-employee synergy, which is the bargaining agent, the collective agreement.

Under federal jurisdiction, the majority of the people we’re talking to in this legislation have such relationships. These employer-employee relationships include public sector employees who have collective agreements.

I urge you once again to please look at this and let common sense reign and include the collective agreements in these stipulations.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 49 agreed to)

(On clause 50)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have LIB-22.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, again, this is consequential to LIB-17. It’s the same thing for three-year time limits.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Next is LIB-23.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Chair, this is the publication of rationales on exemptions, a consequential amendment to LIB-18.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 50 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 51)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Next is amendment LIB-24.

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Again, this is consequential to the amendments made earlier.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Next is amendment CPC-33.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

We’d like clause 51 amended by adding after line 2 on page 23, the following:

(1.1) The accessibility plan must include a statement on how it will contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers.

(Amendment negatived)

(0910)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to NDP-15.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, what we’re trying to do is make the accessibility commissioner the one who is responsible for this. Right now it’s splintered. We have these different entities who have responsibility. It’s very problematic for a variety of reasons that I don’t need to go into because we heard a lot of testimony about it.

We have an opportunity here to make sure that we’re moving the position of the accessibility commissioner into the position it should be in, in overseeing all of these different entities—not different entities in charge of themselves. The CRTC or the CTA shouldn’t be notifying itself or enforcing itself, or entities within its jurisdiction. If it’s carrying out direction from the accessibility commissioner, that’s an entirely different matter. That is more in keeping with this legislation.

Right now, as it’s splintered, it is extremely problematic.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I will follow up on those comments.

I think it’s important, too, that within the accessibility commissioner there’s that level of accountability and transparency. I think that sends a statement to the people in the disability community that we’re taking this seriously.

We heard from witnesses, too, on the importance of having the one body being the accessibility commissioner. It was referenced over and over again.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to NDP-16.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Here’s another example of where we need to be embracing our relationship within the labour community which has very clearly told us that they do see opportunity for synergy. Right now they can be included. The collective agreement, the bargaining agents of employees, can certainly be included in a very meaningful way in the preparation of an accessibility plan.

That just makes for smooth sailing for everybody, so include them. You have to prepare an accessibility plan. Why wouldn’t you want your bargaining agent for your employees involved? It makes no sense to me to not include this.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

The final amendment for clause 51 is LIB-25.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, this is consequential to amendments LIB-14 and LIB-21.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 51 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 52)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have NDP-17.

Ms. Hardcastle.

(0915)

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again we have an issue where it is the accessibility commissioner who should be in charge here, not the CRTC. The issue of splintering the regulatory oversight is a misguided approach and we can correct course with an amendment like this and the others that were already defeated.

I sound like I’m taking a defeatist attitude. But it is important that the accessibility commissioner is the entity that is in charge—truly in charge.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 52 agreed to)

(On clause 53)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to NDP-18.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, this amendment reflects the importance of the accessibility commissioner and that we are not splintering enforcement and regulatory oversight.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to NDP-19.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, it’s important that this bill not undermine workers’ rights and that we do include collective agreements in partnership with realizing our barrier-free Canada.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 53 agreed to)

(On clause 54)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to amendment LIB-26.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, again, this is consequential to amendment LIB-15. We want consistency in language.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On LIB-27, we have Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

The amendment, Mr. Chair, ensures the bill is consistent and clear in the language it uses, particularly in granting regulation-making authority to the different regulators under this bill. The amendment prevents any uncertainty as to the authority of regulators to make regulations in relation to feedback processes by specifically establishing this authority. Regulators must be able to define, adjust and adapt requirements for the feedback process, as necessary, to ensure that all Canadians, especially persons with disabilities, have an effective tool to communicate with regulated entities on accessibility.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Don’t we want the accessibility commissioner doing this job?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Through the chair, yes.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I am trying to get more rationale for this. Shouldn’t it be the accessibility commissioner?

Just going back to some of my arguments and my amendments, what is the accessibility commissioner going to do?

(0920)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I just want to follow up with that, too, because in almost all of the testimony that we heard from stakeholders who either came to us by video or flew across the country to come to speak with us, they had said how their….

We consulted with the stakeholders, but the stakeholders consulted with their people, and they had all said that they wanted this to be a simpler process and the accessibility commissioner to just be in charge.

Through you, Mr. Chair, I am also confused with my colleague. What is the reasoning?

Through you, Mr. Chair, could the Liberals please give an explanation for this amendment as to why we wouldn’t have the accessibility commissioner in charge?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, we feel the sectoral approach is the best approach to move forward with this.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Through you, Mr. Chair, I feel that this actually goes against what stakeholder witnesses have testified to us.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Ms. Falk.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We now move to LIB-27.1.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Mr. Chair, again, this is just a consequential amendment to LIB-16.

LIB-27.1 makes timelines for regulations.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 54 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 55)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ll start with LIB-28. If LIB-28 is adopted, CPC-34 cannot be moved due to consistency with LIB-28 and LIB-29. I just want to give the CPC members of the committee a heads up on that.

On LIB-28, we have Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, again, it’s consequential to LIB-17 and LIB-22. It’s the same discussion.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On LIB-29, we have Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Mr. Chair, again, it relates to the publication of the rationale for exemptions, consequential to amendments LIB-18 and LIB-23.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I’ll now call the vote on clause 55 as amended.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Sorry, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We believe that clause 55 in Bill C-81 should be voted down. This bill allows entities to be exempted from complying with accessibility requirements, as Britain has regulated. There is no principled reason why some organizations should be exempted and not others. Any exemptions will weaken the overall purpose of the act, and we believe that there should be no exemptions in this bill.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, I concur with my colleague. Clause 55 must be omitted from the bill. This clause permits the minister, the CRTC or the CTA to exempt organizations from complying with requirements to prepare and publish accessibility plans, create feedback processes and develop progress reports.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

May I ask for a recorded vote, please.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I figured you would.

(Clause 55 as amended agreed to: yeas 5; nays 3)

(On clause 56)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): The first amendment to clause 56 is LIB-30.

Mr. Morrissey.

(0925)

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

This is simply adding communication.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, I’d like to propose a subamendment, please.

I want to ensure consistency with similar motions. May I read it?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Please amend LIB-30 to read:

ferred to in paragraphs 5(a), (b), (f) and (g) and in the area referred to in paragraph 5(c.1) as it relates to the areas referred to in those paragraphs; and

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is everybody clear on the subamendment to LIB-30?

Can you read it again, Mr. Long?

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

It reads:

ferred to in paragraphs 5(a), (b), (f) and (g) and in the area referred to in paragraph 5(c.1) as it relates to the areas referred to in those paragraphs; and

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

That’s a subamendment.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I’m just wondering what that changes in this clause.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long, do you want to respond to that?

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

I think it just adds more clarity to the amendment.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Consistency with communication.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Okay.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on the subamendment?

(Subamendment agreed to)

(Amendment as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Next is CPC-35.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

We feel that clause 56 should be amended by adding, after line 21 on page 26, the following:

(1.1) The accessibility plan must include a statement on how it will contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

To clarify, LIB-14, LIB-21 and LIB-25, which we’ve already passed, are actually more comprehensive than what’s being proposed right now. I just wanted to point that out.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Ruimy.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I just want to make a statement through you, Mr. Chair.

That contradicts a bit of what we’ve heard, We’ve heard that we want simplicity in the legislation and comprehension in the regulations. That’s what we’ve been hearing from the government. I’m a little confused by that last statement.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Next is NDP-20.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, Mr. Chair, we have an opportunity where, if applicable, the bargaining agent of employees is included in the preparation of the accessibility plan.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to LIB-31.

Mr. Long.

(0930)

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, again, this one is consequential to amendments LIB-14, LIB-21 and LIB-25.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 56 as amended agreed to)

(Clause 57 agreed to)

(On clause 58)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

The only amendment is NDP-21.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, as you’ve noted, there are many clauses of this bill that need to be amended to recognize that many affected people will be public workers with collective agreements. It is important that their rights not be undermined, and it is important that we work in synchronicity in this foundational legislation.

Once again, this amendment is an example of areas where the bargaining agents of employees are included in the preparation of a progress report.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 58 agreed to)

(On clause 59)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Again, we have three amendments proposed: LIB-32, LIB-33 and CPC-36. If LIB-32 and/or LIB-33 are adopted, CPC-36 cannot be moved due to consistency.

We will start with LIB-32 as put forward by Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, again, this is consequential to LIB-17, LIB-22 and LIB-28, previously discussed.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

On this side of the table, we have spoken several times about exemptions and how we feel. That’s all I’m going to say.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will now move to LIB-33, submitted by Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Once again, this is regarding publication of rationales for exemptions and are amendments consequential to LIB-18, LIB-23 and LIB-29.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on LIB-33? Seeing none, I will call the vote.

Ms. Falk?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Go ahead.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I will now ask if there are any discussion on clause 59 as amended.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair, thank you for assuming what I was going to do.

We believe that clause 59 of Bill C-81 should be voted down. Again, this bill allows for regulated entities to be exempted from complying with accessibility requirements. There is no principled reason why some organizations should be exempted. Any exemptions will weaken the overall purpose of this act.

Again, we do not agree with exemptions. There shouldn’t be any in this act.

I would also request a recorded vote, please.

(Clause 59 as amended agreed to: yeas 5; nays 3)

(On clause 60)

(0935)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

The first amendment is LIB-34, submitted by Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Mr. Chair, this amendment serves to bring this in line with amendments from the Liberal side: LIB-5, LIB-6, LIB-13, LIB-19, LIB-24 and LIB-30.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to CPC-37.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Mr. Chair, we feel that clause 60 should be amended by adding after line 31 on page 29 the following:

The accessibility plan must include a statement on how it will contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I feel like a broken record, but again, just to reiterate, these changes would strengthen the effectiveness of accessibility plans, which I’m sure we all believe is important and would help ensure that proper barrier identification is done, which I’m sure we all agree with. Also, the prevention and removal address issues of intersectionality and poverty, which I would assume—but I don’t want to assume—we would all agree with.

Thank you.

(Amendment negatived)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have NDP-22.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, similar to our concerns about exemption with the CRTC, the Canadian Transportation Agency should not be the one that is notified by a regulated entity in terms of the publication and update of its accessibility plan. It should be the accessibility commissioner.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair, I just want to be on record that we also agree. We heard from the stakeholders in testimony here and also the ones who have reached out to our offices that this is important. They want that accessibility commissioner to be there and to be accessible to them so the process isn’t confusing. So, again, on the record, I just want to say yes.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have NDP-23.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, Mr. Chair, the bargaining agents of employees must be part of this legislative process; otherwise, you are not using synergy. You are undermining people’s rights. You are splintering again, and you are not maximizing infrastructure and relationships that are already in place. You’re not leveraging those relationships for this new bill.

Once again, bargaining agents of employees must be included as partners in preparing an accessibility plan.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Our final amendment on clause 60 is LIB-35, submitted by Mr. Long.

(0940)

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, this is repetitive, but consequential to LIB-14, LIB-21, LIB-25 and recently LIB-31.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 60 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 61)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

For clause 61 we have one amendment submitted, NDP-24.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, Mr. Chair, this is another example of a problematic area when we don’t have the accessibility commissioner being the authority that is notified. The regulated entity doesn’t notify their own organization, in this case, the Canadian Transportation Agency. They notify the accessibility commissioner. It’s pretty straightforward.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 61 agreed to)

(On clause 62)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have two amendments submitted, NDP-25 and NDP-26.

Ms. Hardcastle, let’s start with NDP-25.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, once again, I will just underscore the point that we are establishing with Bill C-81 an accessibility commissioner who needs to be given all of the strength and focus in order to be able to implement effectively. That’s who should be notified when these organizations are going through the process to comply with Bill C-81. There’s no other agency that should be in charge of that kind of compliance with Bill C-81.

As you’ll see in further amendments, I keep underscoring this point of an accessibility commissioner. The importance of the accessibility commissioner needs to be bolstered. We have language here that does not substantiate the office and the mandate of the accessibility commissioner without these amendments.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Next is NDP-26.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Briefly again, Mr. Chair, we have to leverage our partnerships and the collective bargaining agent for many of the employees who are going to be affected by Bill C-81. A partner needs to be included.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 62 agreed to)

(On clause 63)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have three amendments proposed. We’ll begin with LIB-36 submitted by Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, this is consequential to LIB-16. It provides more clarity.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On amendment LIB-37, Mr. Long.

(0945)

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, it’s consequential to LIB-15.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On LIB-37.1, Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

It’s a timeline to making regulations, consequential to amendments LIB-16.1 and LIB-27.1

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I just have a question. It’s to make at least one regulation—at least one regulation—within the period of two years.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

That’s the trigger point.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

One.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

At least one, yes.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

One.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

At least one.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I just wanted clarity to make sure I wasn’t seeing wrong. It says to make at least one in two years.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

That’s the trigger point. It has to be able to—

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Sure. Yes, okay.

Thanks, Mr. Chair.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

They can do more.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings] )

(Clause 63 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 64)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have three amendments proposed, which we have seen previously. Again, LIB-38 and/or LIB-39, if they are adopted, CPC-38 cannot be moved due to consistency.

We will begin with LIB-38 submitted by Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, this one is as previously discussed with Liberal amendments LIB-17, LIB-22, LIB-28, and recently, LIB-32.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy, you have LIB-39.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Once again, this is regarding publication of the rationale for exemptions, consequential to LIB-18, LIB-23, LIB-29 and LIB-33.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any discussion on clause 64 as amended?

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair, we believe that clause 64 in Bill C-81 should be voted down. We have heard from our witnesses over and over in the briefings that we have received that this bill as is allows for regulated entities to be exempted from complying—exempted from complying—with accessibility requirements. There is no principled reason—no principled reason—why some organizations should be exempted at all. Again, we don’t believe there should be any exemptions.

We would request a recorded vote, please.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, I too want to specify that my stance was that clause 64 should be omitted from the bill. Just in the order of the process, where we express those exemptions comes after….

I’ve seen a pattern of what’s happening now in the meetings. I’m trying to keep myself engaged so that I don’t become cynical. In reality, I did vote for the amendments to clause 64 because my colleagues across the way did propose some time limits on exemptions, and publication in the Canada Gazette, which is important transparency that I do support. It’s the lesser of two evils.

I just want to clarify that for anybody else who actually is paying attention to how we are voting today. We actually have to move forward and make the best of this. I will continue trying to be engaged and put forth the amendments that I think will make this meaningful, but indeed clause 64 should be omitted entirely.

(0950)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ve had a request for a recorded vote.

(Clause 64 as amended agreed to: yeas 5; nays 3)

(On clause 65)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We have several amendments proposed to clause 65.

We will begin with LIB-40, submitted by Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

I move it as it is.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Perfect.

Oh, Mr. Long. We were so close.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

I know.

Mr. Chair, I’d like to propose a subamendment, please. It’s to address a drafting error.

I’d like to strike out the number “20” in line two of subparagraph 65(1)(a)(ii).

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Okay, so in “passenger 20 trains”, you want to take that “20” out.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Yes, please.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

You have a good eye.

(Subamendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Amendment as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Next is CPC-39.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

We’d like clause 65 to be amended by adding after line 25 on page 33 the following:

(1.1) The accessibility plan must include a statement on how it will contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers.

Basically, the rationale is that part 4 should include an additional provision requiring accessibility plans to relate to the purpose of the act, and to be prepared and implemented in accordance with the principles of the act.

Plans should address how they will contribute to achieving a Canada without barriers by the date specified in the act. These changes would strengthen the effectiveness of accessibility plans and help ensure that barrier identification, prevention and removal address issues of intersectionality and poverty. That’s why we Conservatives believe that should be changed.

(Amendment negatived)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Next is NDP-27.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, once again, the employees of the regulated entities of, in this case, the Canadian Transportation Agency, need to have the bargaining agents of those employees included in the preparation of its accessibility plan.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Now we’ll have the final amendment to clause 65, which is LIB-41, submitted by Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, I’m being repetitive and I apologize for that. This is consequential to amendments LIB-14, LIB-21, LIB-25, LIB-31, and recently, LIB-35.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 65 as amended agreed to)

(Clause 66 agreed to)

(On clause 67)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have one amendment proposed, NDP-28.

Ms. Hardcastle.

(0955)

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, Mr. Chair, in the preparation of a progress report, a regulated entity that has employees who have bargaining agents, those bargaining agents need to be included. It’s pretty straightforward.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 67 agreed to)

(On clause 68)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Clause 68 is similar to what we have addressed a few times. We have LIB-42 and LIB-43. If they are both adopted, CPC-40 cannot be moved due to consistency.

We will start with LIB-42.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, again, this is consequential to LIB-17, LIB-22, LIB-28, LIB-32 and recently LIB-38.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ll go to amendment LIB-43.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Mr. Chair, again, this is for the publication of rationale for exemptions, and is consequential to LIB-18, 23, 29, 33 and 39.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any discussion on clause 68 as amended?

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair, I’m going to repeat myself, but that’s okay; I’m on record.

We believe that clause 68 in Bill C-81 should be voted down. We just don’t believe that exemptions should be granted. Again, there’s no principled reason why some organizations should be exempted, especially if accessibility is the goal, and we’re trying to shift the culture. I don’t think that any federally regulated organization should be exempted.

Could we have a recorded vote, please.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ll have a recorded vote.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, once again, clause 68 is one that gives the power to exempt to the minister on any terms that the minister considers necessary. That must be omitted from the bill.

(Clause 68 as amended agreed to: yeas 5; nays 3)

(On clause 69)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will finish this clause and then take a bit of a break at 10 o’clock.

We have three amendments proposed for clause 69, and we’ll begin with CPC-41.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Mr. Chair, this is all about strengthening CRTC accessibility plans. We propose that clause 69 be amended by adding after line 29 on page 36 the following:

(1.1) The accessibility plan must include a statement on how it will contribute to the realization of a Canada without barriers.

(Amendment negatived)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Next is NDP-29.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Once again, Mr. Chair, in the preparation of an accessibility plan, the collective agreement bargaining agents for the employees need to be included.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(1000)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

The final amendment on clause 69 is LIB-44.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, this is consequential of LIB-14, LIB-21, LIB-25, LIB-31, LIB-35 and recently LIB-41.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 69 as amended agreed to)

(Clause 70 agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will suspend for about five minutes.

(1000)

(1015)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, everyone. We’ll get back to it.

I’ve been looking through the rest of the clauses. There are quite a few that don’t have amendments, so although it doesn’t look like it, we are getting a bit closer.

I think the plan will be that we’ll be pushing through until about 11:30 or 11:45, in there somewhere, and taking another five-minute break at that point. They are bringing lunch. Lunch will come and we’ll grab it and come back to the table. We’ll keep going through it and will not take a lunch break, if that’s okay with everyone. We will take another five- or 10-minute break closer to noon. It will be for five or 10 minutes and that’s all. We’ll try to get done by that one o’clock deadline.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

The goal should be 12:30.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

The goal should be 12:30?

Mr. Gordie Hogg: Higher expectations.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Well, that depends on you guys.

(On clause 71)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): The only amendment we have to clause 71 is NDP-30.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, as you know, a lot of times in employer-employee relationships there are a lot of reasons why people are on two different sides of a fence, so to speak. This is a situation where we are removing barriers for people living with disabilities, and some of those people who are affected are indeed employees in these federal jurisdictions.

Why wouldn’t we want to strengthen the relationship with labour? Why wouldn’t we want to include them in some of the requirements that are laid out in the bill, for instance, to prepare a progress report? This amendment includes the bargaining agents of the employees in the preparation of the progress report. I can’t see why that would be something that isn’t embraced.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 71 agreed to)

(On clause 72)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

There are two amendments proposed, and we will begin with LIB-45.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, again, this has been discussed before. It is consequential to LIB-17, LIB-22, LIB-28, LIB-32, LIB-38 and recently, LIB-42.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now have LIB-46.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Mr. Chair, this is referring back to the publication of rationales for exemptions and is consequential to amendments LIB-18, LIB-23, LIB-29, LIB-33, LIB-39 and LIB-43.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 72 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

No amendments were proposed for clauses 73 and 74. Do I have unanimous consent to apply the vote? Is everybody okay with that?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 73 and 74 agreed to)

(On clause 75)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We have amendment CPC-42.

Ms. Falk.

(1020)

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

This would just change some language, so it would be “must” instead of “may”. This would ensure that the accessibility commissioner makes a compliance order every time there is reasonable grounds to believe that an organization is not complying.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle, your amendment is identical.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Absolutely, Mr. Chair. Throughout the bill we have language such as “may” where we need to have the word “must”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

As we saw last night, and as we heard from our officials, it’s more that the language is consistent throughout.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair, I would like to respond.

With something like this, even though it has always been, sometimes we need to evolve if we’re trying to shift a culture and make a statement and show we care about this. We have expectations and want to add accountability. I think the language we use is very important.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Since clause 75 was not amended, I will ask for unanimous consent that the vote be applied on clauses 75 to 92 inclusive.

Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

No.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will start with clause 75.

(Clause 75 agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We will try that again. Is there unanimous consent to apply the vote to clause 76 to clause 92 inclusive?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 76 to 92 inclusive agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Great, thank you.

(On clause 93)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We have amendment CPC-43.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I have the same argument as before. The language used in this bill is going to set the tone for compliance and for people with disabilities to know we are serious about having this whole process be transparent and about keeping the accessibility commissioner transparent and accountable.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

We have all heard the expression, “words matter”. These words very much matter. “May” should be changed to “must” so we can have some teeth in this bill.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle, yours is an identical amendment.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Yes, Mr. Chair. I want to reword for the sake of stakeholders who are listening to the debate between the words “must” and “may”. Right now we’re talking about the accessibility commissioner and enforcement, so the fact that the accessibility commissioner must make public certain notifications of violations and if a penalty were imposed on other information that’s already been specified, it is extremely reasonable to expect in any kind of legislation that they have to do it, which means we will be using the word “must”, not “may”.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 93 agreed to)

(On clause 94)

(1025)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have amendment CPC-44.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair, I move that Bill C-81, in clause 94, be amended by replacing line 9 on page 51 to line 3 on page 52 with the following:

(2) For greater certainty, complaints in respect of a contravention of any provision of regulations made under subsection 117(1) may only be filed with the Accessibility Commissioner in accordance with subsection (1), and in the event of any inconsistency between the provisions of this Act and the provisions of the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, the Public Service Employment Act or any other Acts of Parliament, the provisions of this Act prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.

This amendment is to designate the accessibility commissioner as the one body to handle compliance with accessibility standards and adjudication of complaints. This bill as it stands does not designate one central agency to oversee compliance with accessibility requirements and adjudicate accessibility complaints. Instead, if this amendment is not passed, enforcement will be done by multiple agencies. These would include the accessibility commissioner, CRTC, CTA and the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board.

As we’ve heard from stakeholders, they requested that the process be simplified and that we have just one body to which complaints would be directed. Stakeholders testified that it would be easiest and more accessible for them if this was achieved through the accessibility commissioner.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Seeing no further discussion, I will call the vote on CPC-44.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Could we have a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)

(Clause 94 agreed to)

(On clause 95)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have a few amendments.

Again, Ms. Hardcastle, amendments CPC-45 and NDP-32 are identical.

We’ll start with amendment CPC-45.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Mr. Chair, again, it’s very similar. We Conservatives believe that in order to give this bill some teeth, the word “may” should be changed to “must” in clause 95. This change would ensure that the accessibility commissioner does investigate all complaints that fall within its purview. There is no justification for the accessibility commissioner to decline to investigate if all the criteria described in the bill are met, since there would be no other legal mechanism available for pursuing the complaint.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, I would like to reinforce that this language change to the more assertive use of the word “must” is under investigation under the section for investigation when there is no other recourse. We’re saying that the accessibility commissioner must investigate when someone has no other recourse under the provisions that are outlined in this section.

(1030)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

We’d like a recorded vote on this as well.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will now move to amendment CPC-46.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

We Conservatives believe that clause 95 must be amended to make it clear that the one-year limitation period to file an accessibility complaint begins from the time the complainant became aware of the act or omission that caused them to suffer a loss.

This change will ensure that people are not prevented from filing an accessibility complaint because they were not aware of the organization’s failure to comply with that act that occurred more than one year ago.

(Amendment agreed to)

(Clause 95 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I will now ask for unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 96 to 102. No amendments were proposed.

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 96 to 102 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 103)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We will now move to clause 103 and amendment CPC-47.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Thank you, Mr. Chair. We propose:

    That Bill C-81, in Clause 103, be amended by adding after line 6 on page 56 the following:
     The review must be conducted by a different officer or employee than the one who made the decision under review.
     The complainant must be given the opportunity to make representations to the officer or employee conducting the review in a manner that is accessible to the complainant.

With this amendment we are asking to require that the person who reviews the decision not to investigate or to discontinue an investigation of a complaint is not the same person who had made the original decision. Part 6 must include a section that provides that complainants who request a review of the accessibility commissioner’s decisions will have an opportunity to make submissions in a manner and form that is accessible to them.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We’d like to propose a subamendment where we will remove the text in subclause (1.1) and replace it with the text currently in subclause (1.2), so subclause (1.2) becomes subclause (1.1).

(1035)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any discussion on the proposed subamendment to CPC-47?

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Subclause (1.1), as it is, states:

(1.1) The review must be conducted by a different officer or employee than the one who made the decision under review.

That seems like common sense to me. That’s keeping impartiality. There is no conflict of interest in this. What is the reasoning for this amendment? I feel that this subamendment would actually weaken what is trying to be accomplished with this amendment.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We want the Human Rights Commission to keep its independence. It’s just a suggestion. If you would strike (1.1), we would support it.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Do you guys have a comment down at the other end? I thought yesterday that the Human Rights Commission already had that right. They’re above this. I don’t understand, because yesterday, I’m pretty sure, unless I dreamt it in my short nap last night, I understood that the Human Rights Commission would already have the final say.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I understood that the Human Rights Commission was already immune to having its independence eroded, so I don’t understand. I think it’s redundant then.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Because we have the interpretation, I’m asking you to go one at a time.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We don’t want to bind the Human Rights Commission’s hands, but again, we can certainly go back to your proposal if you want.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have the subamendment on the floor.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

That, to me, implies that there are aspects that could be potentially binding the Human Rights Commission’s hands, then. I thought the Human Rights Commission was untouchable. I need to clarify some of this, because we’re going to need another lens to look at this through, if it is true that we indeed can tie its hands.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

I’ll defer to the department.

(1040)

[Expand]

Mr. John Barlow:

Mr. Van Raalte.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte (Director General, Accessibility Secretariat, Department of Employment and Social Development):

Mr. Chair, maybe I’ll just clarify the point.

The Human Rights Act will always prevail. This is an administrative procedure amendment. The Human Rights Commission has a great deal of independence in how it operates and how it sets its rules from an administrative justice perspective. The distinction, I believe, if I’m hearing things correctly, and I could be wrong…. This is about telling the Human Rights Commission how to conduct its business as opposed to how it applies human rights laws and its human rights lens to different decisions.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Mr. Van Raalte.

(Subamendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Amendment as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 103 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 104)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): On clause 104, we have several amendments proposed, beginning with LIB-47.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal expressed concern that there might be insufficient detail set out in Bill C-81 in relation to appeals and that there was a risk there could be future legal challenges regarding what the tribunal can do and cannot do with an appeal.

It has also been raised by the Department of Justice that 30 days may not be a sufficient amount of time for persons with disabilities who are self-represented to file an appeal.

The effects of this motion would amend clause 104 to provide greater detail for the appeal power of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and provide the tribunal with the ability to extend an individual’s time to make an appeal if the circumstances warrant it.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any discussion on LIB-47?

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Is this giving a suggestion to the Human Rights Tribunal? I thought we had heard discussion in the last one, in which we had the subamendment debate, from the department about telling CHRT what to do.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

The CHRT, in consultations on all of this, are the ones who are actually recommending this to avoid future legal challenges regarding what the tribunal can or cannot do. It’s something they feel they need to have in there to protect their process.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Just to clarify, because I don’t feel my question was answered, in discussion of the subamendment to the previous clause, we somewhat were told that the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal does not want to be told how to do its job, but this amendment here would suggest to it what to do. I’m just trying to understand, because I’m feeling there’s not a consistency.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

This actually comes from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. I will say it again. They are the ones who feel that, without this amendment, it could create problems down the line. This is just trying to speak to where they feel there may be court challenges. It gives them the ability to continue doing what they are doing.

(1045)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I find it quite interesting that there was reason before not to change something, or to change something, whatever it was. There’s this inconsistency. I don’t understand.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Van Raalte.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

I hope I can make the distinction.

The previous amendment concerned the review process carried out by the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Your first level of recourse is through a process within the commission. It was an amendment that would prescribe how the commission was to conduct its work. There are always concerns about the independence of the commission and telling the commission how to undertake its work.

This is an amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, which is the appeal body to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. It is my understanding from the testimony and the submission that they have requested flexibility in their appeal powers.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Okay, thank you. That clarifies some things. It’s interesting that we’re taking some things we hear and we’re not taking other things we hear, for example, timelines. We’re cherry-picking what we want to take.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move LIB-48 submitted by Mr. Hogg.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

This is consistent with the discussion we’ve just had. It puts us in line with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and subclause 104(1.1) would read:

The appeal lies on any ground of appeal that involves a question of law or fact alone, or a question of mixed law and fact, including a principle of natural justice.

This is to go in alignment with the CHRT and their actions, so it’s to come into compliance and alignment with them.

(Amendment agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We are on LIB-49.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

We’re suggesting adding in:

the grounds of appeal and set out the evidence that supports those grounds.

It’s just keeping in line with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any discussion on LIB-49?

(Amendment agreed to)

(Clause 104 as amended agreed to)

(Clause 105 agreed to)

(On clause 106)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): I understand that there will be some changes to the amendments in clause 106. We’ll start with LIB-50.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I would like to withdraw LIB-50 and replace it with a new amendment, reference 10151430. Copies have been distributed.

Clause 106 would be amended by replacing lines 9 and 10 on page 57 with the following:

may, by order, confirm, vary, give the decision that the Accessibility Commissioner should have given or rescind the decision or order to which the appeal relates or refer the complaint back to the Accessibility Commissioner for reconsideration in accordance with any direction the Human Rights Tribunal may give.

(1050)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I will call the vote on the new reference 10151430.

(Amendment agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Now we move to LIB-51.

Mr. Hogg, that was submitted by you.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Despite the principles and brilliance of the original intent, it has been pointed out to me that it is not consistent with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

I would recommend that we withdraw and replace.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Does everybody have a copy of the replacement amendment, reference 10151332? No.

Mr. Hogg, I’ll get you to read your new amendment, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

It would be subclause 106(1.1):

An appeal shall be on the merits based on the record of the proceedings before the Accessibility Commissioner, but the member or panel of members of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal shall allow oral argument and, if he, she or it considers it necessary for the purpose of the appeal, shall hear evidence not previously available.

That is wording to put us in alignment with the CHRT.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

It says, “allow oral argument”. What about deaf persons?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Hogg.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

My belief is that sign language will be accepted within that, as part of that.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Van Raalte, I know it’s not your amendment.

Does that stipulate other options being used, or is it being very specific that only oral arguments—

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Or I would assume, written arguments.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Mr. Chairman, may I have a moment to confer?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, absolutely.

While they’re conferring, we’ll have Ms. Falk.

(1055)

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I was just assuming that it would be written, and then say, “including oral”.

If this is coming from the tribunal, have they used an accessibility lens? Are they already using an accessibility lens? I don’t know if that makes sense, but it would be a shame to take something, and then if somebody comes who is deaf and has to sign….

It would be unfortunate if in the bureaucracy they’re not able to—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

It seems that the focus of the amendment is new evidence not previously available. If that is the focus, maybe we can play with that oral part, that it’s being overly specific.

Mr. Sangha.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

Mr. Chair, the word here is, shall “hear”. It’s not just to hear with the ears. It’s the word used technically for the term, legally, to give them an opportunity to represent. It’s to give him, her or it an opportunity to represent.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I see what you’re saying, but the concern here is that it’s very specific with “oral” arguments and I don’t think that’s necessarily the goal from the discussions on the Liberal side.

Mr. Van Raalte, do you have any input?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Thank you for your patience, Mr. Chair.

From an inclusion perspective, I believe “oral” would be better, more inclusive, if it were “in person”, which can be by video conference or by telephone. The person doesn’t have to appear physically. The words “in person” would facilitate the accommodation necessary for anybody who was appearing in person.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Mr. Van Raalte.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

When I hear “in person” that means a person with disabilities has to appear in person, so I think “or by video conference” should be spelled out. That’s very specific.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Can’t we just change “oral” to “appropriate format”? “Shall allow alternate”….

“Appropriate formatted arguments” sounds wordy. How do they word that? “Braille and alternate formats in oral and alternative formats”…. “Accessible”…. Yes, whatever is accessible to the person. Maybe we should change “shall allow”.

What happens if you take out the word “oral”? I think the chair mentioned that. “Shall allow argument”…. If “oral” limits us, in saying “argument”, does it then imply sufficiently in the context of accessibility legislation that all appropriate accessible formats are acceptable?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Sangha.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

There are technically two ways to express yourself in the courts or in the tribunals: written and oral. Written is a written presentation. Oral can be speaking directly to the court or presenting where you want to present to the court. I think “oral” is technically for every other thing except the written representation.

(1100)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is “oral” a legal term?

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

I said two terms only: “oral” and “written”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I appreciate that feedback. That concern with the disability accessibility act is where we—

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

“Oral” will include everything.

You can’t give one specific term for every…not even to listen, not even to speak and not even to see. Orally using other instruments…to express to the tribunal.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I don’t want to get too involved but because we’re dealing with a disability accessibility act, we don’t want to be very specific on “oral”. I think that’s where the confusion is coming from, even if it may be a legal term. That’s great input. I appreciate that.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I find that comment a little ironic because we had witnesses here who couldn’t speak and they signed. That was their language.

This is obviously a greater problem if our only two definitions are “oral” and “written”. This is much deeper and bigger than this act.

I’m really concerned about that, because, as I said yesterday, to have this pass and look 20 years down the road and have people not being able to access because we didn’t do our job here would do an injustice to people who need accessibility.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Hogg.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

If we were to replace “allow oral” with “accommodate or accept arguments” that would accommodate arguments that he or she considers necessary for the purpose of the appeal.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Maybe we could get some clarification from the legislative clerk regarding their opinion on whether “hear” suffices for “accept”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thus far they don’t believe that “oral” is sufficient to include everything. The feeling is that “oral” is specific.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

It does.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

They don’t want to give advice on that. It’s a legal question, not a procedural one, but we do have another suggestion on the table.

Mr. Sangha.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

As Mr. Hogg says, it can be “oral, with accommodations, and written”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That’s not what I heard from Mr. Hogg.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Can we just take one minute?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Sure, we’ll suspend for one minute.

(1100)

(1105)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have a couple of different suggestions. Mr. Hogg had put a bit of a change forward.

Do you have a new suggestion?

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

If we were to take out “oral” and just say “allow arguments”, make that plural, then I think that’s probably the simplest way of addressing it and allowing the intent that Ms. Falk put forward.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much. That was a roundabout way of getting to where we started.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

We’re not exactly where we started.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

No, we added the plural.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

And we took “oral” out.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That’s right. That’s the most important part. It’s a huge leap.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Thank you.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Thank you for bringing that up.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I will call the vote on reference 10151332.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Thank you, everyone. That was a good discussion.

We now move to amendment LIB-52. That was put forward by Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

This refers back to the appeals of the CHRT and is consequential to amendments LIB-47, LIB-49 and LIB-50.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I’m just wondering if it has to state “in accessible format”, because pending even the accessibility commissioner…, and if they are somebody who has disabilities, that’s just so that it would be in a format that’s accessible.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

So you’re adding that as a suggestion for subclause 106(3) and that’s after “and the parties to the appeal”? So it’s “A copy of the order…must be…in accessible format”.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Yes.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

It would be “A copy of the order made by the”—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

—“must be provided in accessible format” is what I think they are—

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I think that’s implied.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Sangha.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

When we read the definitions at clause 2 of the bill, I think it’s totally described there who is in need of the benefits and how they are to be provided. If it is not, that has to be in the definitions. The rest, everything, will flow throughout the whole act.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I think right now we’re looking at everything through an accessibility lens. But even, for example, with the prior amendment, we can’t assume that it’s implied, because it clearly wasn’t previously. I think that we just have to be extra cautious that we are looking through the lens and putting that accessibility hat on, and looking through every one of these clauses just so we don’t become complacent.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

It hasn’t been put forward as a subamendment. I think it’s just a discussion right now.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

No, no. What we’re trying, number one, is to keep it consistent with the rest of the motions we have been putting through on the CHRT. This motion will facilitate by clearly setting out what the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal can and cannot do in dealing with an appeal, avoiding confusion and uncertainty in the process.

Perhaps James can help us here, because from my recollection of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, 60% of complaints came from disability.

We need to keep consistent throughout the whole bill with this. What can you tell us about that?

(1110)

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Apologies, Mr. Chair, I’m not clear on the question.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Yes, I’m not clear on the question either.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Does it have to be specific in the wording, James, that submissions to the commission or the tribunal have to be accessible documents that can be accessed by people with various disabilities?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

No it does not. Further, I would say the tribunal’s administrative structure that sits in behind it would be a regulated entity, and so it would be subject to the regulations and standards brought forward under the act.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I guess this goes back to my question. If this is coming from other departments or the tribunal or whatever it is, I don’t see them looking at something with the disability or accessibility lens. Again, I just really hope that there is not going to be a hole in there, and 10 or 20 years down the road we find out that, oh look, they’re providing inaccessible documents, and the commissioner can’t even access them, maybe because of their disability or accessibility requirements.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Sangha.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

Again, the big lens is this act. This act provides everything about barriers: how to be barrier-free, what a disability is, what a barrier is. Everything is explained in clause 2. Let’s leave everything for subclause 117(1) to form the regulations and bylaws under that. That’s where things will be regulated.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 106 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I will ask for unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 107 to 110.

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 107 to 110 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 111)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): On clause 111, the first amendment is NDP-33.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Just for the record, this section deals with the appointment of the chief accessibility officer. It says, “the Governor in Council may appoint”. We propose to change the wording to “must appoint”.

(Amendment negatived)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move on to CPC-47.1.

Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Bill C-81 must include timelines for when the chief accessibility officer is to be appointed. The amendment proposes to add:

The Chief Accessibility Officer is to be appointed no later than six months after the day on which this subsection comes into force.

I think that by agreeing to this amendment, it’s not only going to show our stakeholders that this is something the government cares about, but also that it’s something the government will take action on immediately after it receives royal assent.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I think it’s important to note that, throughout our amendments, we’ve been talking about the chief accessibility officer based on the premise that this officer exists. With the previous motion being defeated, we don’t have decisive language that says “must”.

I would hope that my honourable colleagues would at least consider a timeline. This chief accessibility officer isn’t going to exist without that language. We’re discussing based on the fact that the officer does exist. Let’s give it a timeline. The way it stands now, if the Governor in Council doesn’t have to appoint a chief accessibility officer…. They may, but there’s no timeline.

It’s too precarious for this legislation. This is foundational legislation

(1115)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ll have a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)

(Clause 111 agreed to)

(Clause 112 agreed to)

(On clause 113)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): For clause 113, we have LIB-53.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

In effect, this motion would create an amendment to the existing duty to the chief accessibility officer. It will provide the officer with the authority to give information and advice to the minister.

(Amendment agreed to)

(Clause 113 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any discussion on PV-11?

(Amendment negatived)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): I’m going to ask for unanimous consent to group the vote on clauses 114 to 116.

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 114 to 116 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 117)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We have several amendments on clause 117. I will begin with LIB-54, which was submitted by Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

This is consequential to amendments already discussed: LIB-15, LIB-37.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to CPC-48.

Whatever the vote is on CPC-48 will also apply to CPC-53, which is on page 136 of your package. The vote is consequential and it deals with both clauses.

Ms. Hardcastle, on this one, your NDP-33.1 is identical.

(1120)

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Yes.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We are suggesting with CPC-48:

That Bill C-81, in Clause 117, be amended by deleting lines 3 to 15 on page 61.

These should be omitted from the bill. This section permits the government to exempt certain organizations or undertakings from producing and publishing accessibility plans, feedback processes and progress reports.

This is just another opportunity for transparency and accountability.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

As we heard again and again from our witnesses, there is simply no good reason why any parliament or obligated organization should be exempted from these requirements or any requirements imposed under the bill.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I’d like a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to Liberal amendment 54.1, submitted by Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Again, this is just referencing back to the timeline to making regulations in the consequential amendments of LIB-16.1, LIB-27.1 and LIB-54.1.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, last night in our discussion I believe the timeline described to us was that it would be the summer of 2020. Is this the same timeline? No?

Okay. Never mind.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to CPC-49.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

With this proposal from the Conservatives, Parliament would see every regulation to be made under paragraph 117(1)(c) providing more oversight. We suggest amending clause 117 by adding, after line 28 on page 61, the following:

(5) The Minister must table in each House of Parliament every regulation that the Governor in Council proposes to make under paragraph 117(1)(c).
(6) Each House may refer the proposed regulation to any commitee that is appropriate under the rules of that House and, if the proposed regulation is so referred, the committee may review it and report its recommendations to the House.
(7) A regulation may not be made before the earliest of
(a) 30 sitting days after the proposed regulation is tabled in both Houses;
(b) 160 calendar days after the proposed regulation is tabled in both Houses; and
(c) the day after the committee reports its recommendations or, if the proposed regulation was referred to more than one committee, the day after the last report.
(8) For the purposes of subsection (7), sitting day means a day on which either House sits.
(9) The Minister must take into account any report of the committee of either House. If a regulation does not incorporate a recommendation of the committee of either House, the Minister must table before that House a statement of the reason for not incorporating it.
(10) A proposed regulation that has been tabled in Parliament need not be tabled again before the regulation is made, whether or not it has been altered.

(1125)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I believe I have a similar or the same amendment, so I would just like to concur with my colleague, who spoke before me on his amendment and underscore a few added points to that.

This amendment is under general regulations. That is part 8, for those people who are listening and following along today. Under general regulations, right now, it is the Governor in Council. This amendment creates transparency and some independence by providing stipulations that these documents be tabled in Parliament, independently of the Governor in Council. That way we do have some transparency as well, which is extremely important in building the indoctrinated support that we need in this legislation.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

We’d like a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 4; yeas 3)

(Clause 117 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 118)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to clause 118. There is one amendment proposed, LIB-55.

Go ahead, Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

We need to ensure consistency with a subamendment.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

I’d like to propose a subamendment, please, to ensure consistency with similar motions. Please amend LIB-55 to read: “paragraphs 5(a), (b), (f) and (g) and in the area referred to in paragraph 5(c.i) as it relates to the areas referred to in those paragraphs.

(Subamendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Amendment agreed to as amended [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Clause 118, and incidentally clauses 118 to 121, of the bill should be removed along with any similar provisions in the bill, where they limit federal regulations under this act from reaching all aspects of all obligated organizations under this act. The bill should be amended to repose all power to make accessibility standard regulations in the federal cabinet and to remove the bill’s grant of the power to make some accessibility standard regulations to the Canadian Transportation Agency and the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission.

Once again, I will repeat that clause 118 should be removed.

(1130)

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Is it the communication part that you want removed?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

No, she doesn’t want clause 118 in the legislation.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

The communication part.

(Clause 118 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 119)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On clause 119, there is one amendment proposed, LIB-56.

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Again, it’s to ensure consistency with similar motions, and it will be subamended.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

I have a subamendment.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

For crying out loud.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Do you want me to read this or can we all mouth it together here? Please amend Liberal—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Sorry, Mr. Long, just one second.

Are you going to have a few of these throughout as we go?

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

I have one more.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

One more? Okay, then we’ll just carry on.

I’m assuming it’s the same. Okay.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

“As it relates to”.

(Subamendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Amendment agreed to as amended [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I just want to note that clause 119 is another one of these provisions in the bill that should be removed because it limits federal regulations under this act from reaching all aspects of all obligated organizations that are supposed to be under this act.

(Clause 119 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

(On clause 120)

We’re into clause 120. There are two amendments proposed.

The first is LIB-57, by Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Mr. Chair, these are consequential to amendments LIB-5, 6, 13, 19, 24, 30, 34, 40, 55 and 56.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now turn to LIB-58.

Mr. Morrissey again.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

This is to ensure consistency with similar motions related to the mobility of persons, with a subamendment.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long, the same subamendment?

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

The same subamendment, yes.

(Subamendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Amendment as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Clause 120 of the bill should also be removed. It is another one of those provisions in the bill that limits federal regulations under this act. It limits them from reaching all aspects of all obligated organizations.

(Clause 120 as amended agreed to)

(1135)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

(On clause 121)

I’ll move to clause 121. Again, there are two amendments proposed, beginning with LIB-59.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Again, exemptions can’t be unlimited, so we propose what we proposed in 17, 22, 28, 32, 38, 42 and recently 45.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On LIB-60, Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Again, it’s just referring back to publication of rationale for exemptions, consequential amendments to LIB-18, 23, 29, 33, 39, 43 and 46.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Clause 121 of the bill should be removed, and any other similar provisions in the bill should be removed because they limit federal regulations under the act. They limit these regulations from reaching all aspects of all obligated organizations under this act.

(Clause 121 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have two amendments, PV-12 and PV-13.

I will begin with PV-12. PV-12 is identical to CPC-54, page 137. If the decision on PV-12 will impact CPC-54, it would not be admissible.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Do we have to make comments on that now?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

It’s the same amendment. It’s being added to a different part of the bill, but because it’s the same amendment, the Green Party has put theirs ahead of the CPC. Therefore it’s dealt with first. So any decision on PV-12 will be reciprocated on CPC-54.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

So if it fails, does CPC-54 fail?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

If it fails, CPC-54 fails.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I’m going to speak in support of this amendment as put forth by the member from Saanich—Gulf Islands. I know that she wanted to be here today but can’t be, because she had an important event in her riding for Kristallnacht.

I do concur with my colleagues in their similar amendment. It is extremely important that we have accountability and transparency worked into this bill in a more substantial way and that we have timelines. This does help us do that, and it rolls in the independence aspect in answering to Parliament rather than to the Governor in Council. I think it’s a very significant amendment and an improvement that I welcome.

(1140)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Mr. Chair, we Conservatives agree, for instance, that if no regulations are made under paragraph 117(1)(c) within 12 months after the day on which this clause comes into force, the minister must cause a report to be tabled before each House of Parliament, on any of the first 10 days on which that House is sitting after the expiry of that 12-month period.

Two, if no such regulations are made within 12 months after tabling the report referred to in subclause (1), the minister must cause a report to be tabled before each House of Parliament on any of the first 10 days on which the House is sitting after the expiry of the 12-month period, and at least once every subsequent 12-month period, as long as no regulations have been made.

Three, the reports must include an explanation for regulations not being made and must establish a schedule for the making of such regulations.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I just want to add, too, that I don’t believe that this is partisan legislation. I think we should all have the best intentions for people who need accessibility. That being said, I want to somewhat repeat my colleague’s comments yesterday. We don’t know who the government is going to be in 10 or 20 years, and this ensures that accessibility is going to be a priority and that it’s not going to be something that is overlooked. It holds that level of accountability and transparency.

We request a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to PV-13.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): No amendments were made to clause 122, so I’m going to ask for unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 122 to 130. Do I have unanimous consent to do so?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

No.

(Clause 122 agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I’ll give it one more try and ask for unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 123 to 130.

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 123 to 130 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 131)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On clause 131, the first amendment is PV-14. Again, if this one is adopted, CPC-50 cannot be moved due to a conflict, as the Green Party amendment will change the same lines as CPC-50. That’s only if it’s adopted.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(1145)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will move on to CPC-50.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We are requesting an amendment stating, “Five years after the day on which this Act receives royal assent, or as soon as feasible after that day, a comprehensive review of its provisions and operation is to be commenced by a”.

What we’re saying is that clause 131 should be amended to require that the committee conduct its first review five years after the date on which the act is proclaimed into law. This change will prevent the review from being delayed if the regulations are not promptly passed.

We request a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 131 agreed to)

(On clause 132)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On clause 132, we’ll start with PV-15, which is identical to amendments put forward as CPC-51 and NDP-34, so whatever decision is made on PV-15 will be reciprocal on CPC-51 and NDP-34.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I think that what we heard from witnesses and testimony was that timelines were important. It is important to measure how well the government is doing with accessibility. It is important to make sure that there’s direction given that will prompt people to move forward and want to move forward.

This amendment would require the first independent review of the act to be held in 2025 and every four years thereafter. This will coincide with Canada’s reporting obligations under the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

We know that a timeline for independent review is an important component, not only to our stakeholders but to ready us for the day when we implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which we are signatories to, but this bill falls short of implementing.

It will position us so that we can evolve into that position. I think all of us here want to see this legislation be effectual. I would hope that we’re all prepared for a compromise here. If there is a compromise on a specific date that would provide for the passing of this amendment, then I think we should discuss that. I’m open to that.

I’ll like a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will move to LIB-61 put forward by Mr. Ruimy.

(1150)

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

This motion would provide an amendment to the independent review of the act to ensure that the person or persons conducting the independent review is required to consult all implicated parties.

With this amendment, we make sure that the minister responsible under this act is not limited in executing their responsibility to appoint a single independent reviewer.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 132 as amended agreed to)

(Clause 133 agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We go to Green Party-16. The feeling is that it is inadmissible due to making specific declaration on the specifics of sign language that is beyond the scope of the bill. It introduces new concepts that were not included in other parts of the bill. That would include PV-16 and CPC-52 as inadmissible.

I’ll now be asking for unanimous consent to group the votes on clause 134 to clause 141.

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

No. I have something to say about clause 138.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Okay, do I have unanimous consent to group clauses 134 to 137?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 134 to 137 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 138)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We will now go to clause 138. Is there any discussion?

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Clause 138 of the bill should be removed because it gives the Speaker of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Commons the power to exempt a parliamentary entity from certain aspects of the bill’s requirements.

That’s not good.

(Clause 138 agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I’m asking for unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 139 to 141.

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 139 to 141 inclusive agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): That takes us to clause 142.

Because these two amendments were dealt with in previous proposals, can I get unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 142 to 146?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 142 to 146 inclusive agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): New clause 146.1 has already been dealt with.

(Clause 147 agreed to)

(On clause 148)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’ll now move to clause 148. We have two amendments proposed. We’ll begin with CPC-54.1, on page 137.2.

Ms. Falk.

(1155)

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Basically, this amendment is again on timelines:

The Accessibility Commissioner is to be appointed no later than six months after the day on which this subsection comes into force.

It’s pretty straightforward, just timelines, accountability.

Can we have a recorded vote?

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Now we’ll go to amendment CPC-55.

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

The amendment is:

Section 26 of the Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (5):
(6) The Accessibility Commissioner must receive appropriate training in matters related to accessibility and discrimination.

I know I spoke to something such as this earlier. Knowledge is power. Sometimes it’s just even having a conversation or some type of additional training that makes people more aware of their words and actions.

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on CPC-55?

Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

The accessibility commissioner should receive anti-racism, anti-oppression and cultural competency training to ensure that a complaint process does not perpetuate systematic discrimination experienced by ethno-racial persons with disabilities, or even indigenous persons with disabilities.

It’s just becoming aware that different things have different meaning in different cultures. In some cultures, you don’t make eye contact with people—it’s actually disrespectful to do that. Unless people are educated and aware, they are causing more harm than good.

(Amendment negatived)

(Clause 148 agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

As you can see, lunch is being set up now. We have a bunch we can carry here. If we can get through those really quickly in the next two minutes before noon, we’ll do that. Then we’ll break for 10 minutes to grab lunch.

(On clause 149)

On clause 149, we have CPC-56.

Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Clause 149 should ensure that persons with disabilities participate meaningfully in the monitoring and implementation of the CRPD. Such participation is required under article 33(3) of the CRPD.

Clause 149 must be amended to require the Canadian Human Rights Commission to monitor in accordance with articles 33(2) and 33(3) of the CRPD.

Sufficient resources must be provided to the commission and disability communities to support them in their roles.

(Amendment negatived)

(1200)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Can I have unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 149 to 153?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

No.

(Clause 149 agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I’m asking for unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 150 to 153.

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 150 to 153 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 154)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Mr. Ruimy, please present LIB-62.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

This is replacing the word “emotional” with the word “psychological”. The bill generally refers to psychological harm, except in two instances where it interchangeably refers to emotional harm. This amendment will ensure the bill consistently uses the term “psychological harm”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I understand consistency, but why can’t it be psychological and emotional harm?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I know we had conversations. I’m just trying to think of what the witnesses were telling us.

Honestly, it’s because there are two instances of “emotional harm”. We’re making it more consistent throughout the entire act. Why would you have two sections referring to it as “emotional harm”, when we’re referring to it as “psychological harm”?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I see psychological and emotional as two different things.

Is the government proposing that we specifically remove “emotional harm”?

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Yes. We’re replacing “emotional” with “psychological” to make it consistent throughout.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

They’re two different things, I’m just wondering about this. Is psychological harm more important than emotional harm? I’m just trying to understand.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Can I ask Mr. Van Raalte to chime in here a bit?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Our apologies to the committee. It is a drafting error. The intent all the way through was to use “psychological”. It is a broader and more accepted term and it encompasses the emotional aspect.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

That’s how the department sees it.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much for your intervention.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 154 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 155)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’ll move to clause 155. If we get through this, you can go and have lunch, probably, by the looks of it.

We have LIB-63, with Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Again, this is referring back to replacing “emotional” with “psychological” as a consequential amendment to LIB-62.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Again, it’s just changing “emotional” to “psychological”.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 155 as amended agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Can I have unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 156 to 162?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 156 to 162 inclusive agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’ll take a 10-minute recess to grab some food and take a break. We’re now suspended.

(1205)

(1220)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you. We’ll come back in session.

We will start back at clause 163. I appreciate everybody’s diligence in getting through this. I feel very good about our finishing this by one o’clock, so we’ll see how well we do.

We’re on LIB-64.

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

The bill incorrectly refers to the accessible Canada act in French as La loi sur l’accessibilité fédérale. The amendment will ensure that the bill is consistent and correct by referring to the correct title, which should be La loi canadienne sur l’accessibilité.

[Translation]

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

[English]

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

They gave it to me because of my French.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, I could tell.

[Translation]

Me too.

[English]

Are there any comments?

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 163 as amended agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Could I get unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 164 to 168?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 164 to 168 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 169)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’ll now move to clause 169. Two amendments are proposed. We’ll begin with LIB-65.

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

LIB-65 is a consequential amendment in reference to LIB-1 and LIB-2, which have already been approved.

(Amendment agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’re on to LIB-66.

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Many stakeholder groups have reacted positively to the definition of “disability” in Bill C-81, and some have stated that the definition advances beyond the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by recognizing that certain impairments may cause the experience of barriers to be episodic. This amendment recognizes that.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 169 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 170)

(1225)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to clause 170 with proposed amendment LIB-67.

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

This is a consequential amendment resulting from amendments LIB-5, LIB-6, LIB-13, LIB-19, LIB-24, LIB-30, LIB-34, LIB-40, LIB-55, LIB-56, LIB-57 and LIB-58. They broaden the scope by including communication.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’re on to LIB-68.

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Exemptions can’t be unlimited, and consequential to previous amendments, we’d like to change this part.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 170 as amended agreed to)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Can I get unanimous consent to group the votes on clauses 171 to 206?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 171 to 206 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 207)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Is there any discussion on CPC-57?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

This amendment basically would make it so that “on the 90th day after the day on which this Act receives royal assent” it would come into force. It’s giving 90 days for this act to come into force.

The current coming into force provision does not require the government to act. Additionally, if this clause is left as is, according to the Statutes Repeal Act, this act would be automatically repealed within 10 years of receiving royal assent.

I would like a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Can I move an amendment, if possible?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

It’s that Bill C-81, in clause 207, be amended by replacing lines 28 and 29 on page 301 with the following, “206, come into force on the 60th day after the day on which this Act receives royal assent.”

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Sorry, I’ll just say, it’s the same amendment, different day.

(1230)

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I would like a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

May I move another amendment?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

It’s that Bill C-81, in clause 207, be amended by replacing lines 28 and 29 on page 301 with the following, “206, come into force on the 30th day after the day on which this Act receives royal assent.”

Again, the current coming into force provision does not require the government to act. Additionally, if the clause is left as is, according to the Statutes Repeal Act, this act would be automatically repealed within 10 years of receiving royal assent.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Hogg.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Can we ask Mr. Van Raalte what the practices normally are in these instances in terms of the dates coming into effect and whether there’s a rationale for this?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

There are a range of practices. Some pieces of legislation are left to the discretion of the Governor in Council. Some pieces of legislation have different coming into force dates for different sections, depending on the requirements.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

That will remain silent on it now?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

The Governor in Council will come forward with a coming into force date.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Make a determination, thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Further to that, is there a timeline when the Governor in Council does bring forward that timeline or that date? Do we have that, then?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

No, as the bill sits now, my understanding is there is no timeline.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Right, that’s how I understand it too, but we just heard in an explanation that this was going to be provided later, a timeline.

Is that not what you just said, Mr. Van Raalte, that a timeline would be provided later?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

The Governor in Council will have to come forward, publish through the Canada Gazette, with the coming into force date.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

There is no requirement right now. Nothing changes. That explanation doesn’t change our situation at all. We still have nothing. We still don’t have any dates for anything required.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle, as it sits now, the bill will sunset in 10 years if there are no steps taken or regulations or anything in force. However, from Mr. Van Raalte, that possibly could change.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Okay, that’s all. I wanted to make sure we heard.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We request a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We believe that clause 207 in Bill C-81 should be voted down. We have tried to improve it, through a few amendments here, and that didn’t work so we weren’t able to improve it. Again, the current coming into force provision does not require the government to act. Additionally, if the clause is left as is, according to the Statutes Repeal Act this act would be automatically repealed within 10 years of receiving royal assent.

(1235)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

It will be a recorded vote.

(Clause 207 agreed to: yeas 5; nays 3)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

I’d like to ask my colleagues if we could get unanimous consent for a subamendment to LIB-19, which we missed earlier, just for consistency.

A voice: No.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will move on to the preamble. We had a couple of amendments proposed earlier in the process last night that were withdrawn, dealing specifically with the interpretation of indigenous peoples of Canada. That was LIB-3, so it was very early on in the process.

We have two proposed amendments as part of the preamble, LIB-69 and CPC-58, but they are deemed to be inadmissible because they deal with the preamble but there is no coordinating part of the bill itself. You can’t have something in the preamble that doesn’t have a coordinating portion or amendment within the bill itself.

Does anybody need any additional clarification on that?

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Mr. Chair, I think we need clarification. What about paragraphs (b) and (c) of amendment LIB-69?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That amendment is coming up next as CPC-59, which would be almost identical to what you’re proposing, but that CPC amendment would have precedence over yours because it was submitted prior. It would have to be a new amendment.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Can we just have a moment?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, we’ll suspend for one minute.

(1235)

(1240)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

The Liberal amendment is inadmissible, as well as CPC-58.

You could not make an amendment to that one as CPC-59 is pretty much identical and would have precedence.

We now move to CPC-59.

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

This is an amendment to the preamble to change “Canadians” to “persons in Canada”. The change is necessary to help ensure that everyone in Canada, regardless of their citizenship, status or identification with Canada, gets benefits from accessibility requirements under the act.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Again, Ms. Hardcastle, this amendment is identical to yours right after. If you want to make a comment, I would suggest you do it now.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Okay. As it reads now, somebody could interpret that if they’re in Canada but are not a Canadian, the rules don’t apply to them either way. I think it’s pretty simple and straightforward.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

I would move a subamendment to strike “abilities or” in part (b) of CPC-59.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Okay, so it would just be “regardless of their disabilities”.

Is there any discussion on the proposed subamendment?

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I had a similar amendment early on, and there was some debate. Didn’t we keep that in? We kept “abilities” in for some reason, or did that…?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We took it out.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

We did? Okay.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I believe that we were keeping “disabilities” throughout the bill to retain that consistency, so “abilities” was removed in favour of “disabilities”, if I recall correctly.

(Subamendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Amendment as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): I have to commend all of you on your diligence. We’re almost there. We just have the last few to go.

(Preamble as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Shall the short title carry?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Shall the title carry?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Shall the bill as amended carry?

Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

First of all, I am very disappointed that this bill does not have teeth. We heard very clearly from our stakeholders that they cared about timelines, about accountability, about transparency, about ease of accessibility, about having one body to oversee complaints, about enforcement—all of that. Two amendments were adopted that weren’t Liberal amendments, but I’m disappointed that this seemed to turn into a partisan issue and what the minister wanted—we heard that a couple of times, that “the minister wanted this”.

We serve Canadians. We serve our stakeholders. I’m terribly disappointed that we brought them in here. We heard them speak passionately. These are people who have lived with disabilities. They lack accessibility to the majority of everything. That they were being heard at the table was historical, in the sense of groundbreaking. I’m just so disappointed that we as a committee couldn’t add more teeth.

(1245)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I know intimately that in the disabilities community people are very pleased to be asked and to be engaged, and they are actually very easy to please. They’ve done without so much and they have so many struggles; they take what they can get.

They are watching closely today. They know some of the fundamental problems with this bill, one of them being that the government can exempt itself from many of these regulations; another being the splintering of implementation and enforcement, which is really insensitive to the actual, lived experience of people living with disabilities. The bill needed to be greatly simplified. However, I know that people are going to be ecstatic. They’re going to want to see us be diligent in moving forward on this.

I’m feeling very mixed emotions right now for people, just because we had expected that in earnest we were going to come here to debate these amendments. It was very clear that there was a preconceived notion of what should be happening and an agenda, which has been realized, that really didn’t take into account that testimony.

I know it sounds harsh, but I need to say this in a very clear and concise way, because we have stakeholders listening who are very frustrated and who want to have an acknowledgement that we know that they know that we know that they know that these amendments and the language in this bill do not meet their needs sufficiently.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Since we’re all having a say here, I first of all want to thank all the stakeholders in the disability community for the months of consultations that went on to get us to where we are today. We heard testimony and recommendations for amendments from multitudes of people, and we put forward 69 of our own amendments. Many of them were very similar to what the opposition had put forward, but which were improved upon.

While it’s easy to say right now that there’s disappointment, I think there’s excitement for what we have accomplished.

We heard from every witness who came through that while they wanted to see amendments, they were excited that we were moving forward. This is the end result. On our side we heard, we listened and we made adjustments to the legislation.

I want to thank everybody for all their hard work and for getting us to where we are today.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

It is a start, I would say, but it falls far below the bar. We could have done far better. I think we Conservatives fought very hard to try to get some real teeth, but this is really like a toothless guard dog.

I believe that the Liberals are failing Canadians with disabilities. I think the fact that there are no implementation timelines is a huge thing. It’s just unacceptable. We certainly heard some pretty strong language from the countless witnesses who came here. I was quite shocked at how strong their language was, but they’re the people we are trying to serve. We listened to them and I truly don’t think that, overall, they were heard.

It is not nearly as good as it could be, and I’m quite disappointed. The very fact that there are no timelines and there are exemptions where entities can get out of even having to deal with the bill is shameful, I think.

Of the amendments, how many were taken? Two or three, perhaps, were taken of the 60 amendments that I think would have improved the bill. It’s quite disappointing. As I say, it’s a start, but it falls far below the bar.

(1250)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Hogg.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

The timelines and extensions have been referenced a number of times, and I think there’s a lot more commonality than is being portrayed.

There are a number of principles that we talked about, and the principles can be implemented in a number of different fashions. Not everything should be in legislation. We’ve referred to the standards, the practices and to accreditation. All of those are important variables in the provision of any types of disabilities.

I was an active participant in the development of disabilities legislation in British Columbia, where we created Community Living B.C. We went through a very similar process and we relied heavily upon input from the people who were part of it. Any good public policy has to have the people who it impacts having not just an important say in it, but also a say in the process by which it becomes implemented.

I believe we have followed the majority of principles that have been put forward. I think there is pretty good agreement on both sides of the House, or all around the House, in terms of those principles. I think there’s a disagreement in terms of how they can best be implemented to respond most effectively to the needs of making our country most accessible.

We heard many people coming before us say that we are leading the world in terms of moving forward with this legislation. We’re really at the forefront and I think we should be relying on those people who have the ability and the skills within the framework of the legislation, and the practices and the accreditation that we have available to us. I think we have come to a very good balance in terms of being able to do that.

I’m very pleased, delighted and darned excited about what we’ve been able to achieve.

An hon. member: Hear, hear!

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Chair, thank you for your leadership over the last two days. It’s very much appreciated.

Certainly on behalf of my riding and on behalf of countless groups across New Brunswick, and in particular southern New Brunswick, we are absolutely thrilled to move forward with Bill C-81.

I’m proud to be part of a government that is moving forward with this legislation after what I would call the previous government’s 10 years of non-action—no action. I’m very proud of Bill C-81 and the movements we are taking to move this forward.

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion?

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

I’d like to add that you did a marvellous job as the chairperson. You handled that extremely well.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thanks very much.

Now we will continue on with the vote.

Shall the bill as amended carry?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Shall the chair report the bill as amended to the House?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Shall the committee order a reprint of the bill as amended for the House at report stage?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Excellent.

Well done, everyone.

I appreciate everyone’s support to get us through what I have to say is probably a pleasant surprise to all of us, to get this done as expediently as we did.

Certainly, my final comments would be that our thoughts are with Bryan May and his family. I know he was watching last night. Apparently, he is a glutton for punishment.

But, again, just on the number of amendments that were brought through on Bill C-81, I think all of us saw that there was work to do on this bill to ensure it met the goals that were brought forward by our stakeholders. I think as parliamentarians, and as this committee, it now behooves us to ensure that we hold this government, and whatever the next government is, accountable to ensure that they follow through with what we heard from our stakeholders and certainly from the discussions we had here among us as a committee.

Thank you very much for everyone’s commitment to this.

Thank you very much to the staff, the clerk and our legislative clerks who guided me through this over the last two days.

I hope everybody has a great constituency week and spends some time with their family and friends.

The meeting is adjourned.



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Transcript of the November 7, 2018 meeting of the House Of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities – Day 1 of the Standing Committee’s Clause-by-Clause Consideration of Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act


Transcript of the November 7, 2018 meeting of the House Of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities – Day 1 of the Standing Committee’s Clause-by-Clause Consideration of Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

Notice of meeting Amended

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA)

42nd Parliament, 1st Session

Meeting 123

Wednesday, November 7, 2018, 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.Amended

Room 415, Wellington Building, 197 Sparks Street

Televised

Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada

CLAUSE-BY-CLAUSE CONSIDERATION

Witnesses

Department of Employment and Social Development

  • James Van Raalte, Director General, Accessibility Secretariat
  • Benoît Gendron, Director, Accessibility Secretariat
  • Erik Lapalme, Senior Policy Analyst, Accessibility Secretariat

Clerk of the Committee

Stephanie Feldman (613-996-1542)

2018-11-06 10:01 a.m.

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities

EVIDENCE

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

(1950)

[English]

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow (Foothills, CPC)):

I call the meeting to order.

We have a long night ahead of us, so we’re going to get started. We have a bit of an introduction before we get started on clause-by-clause study.

I also want to take a quick moment to say for all of us that our thoughts are with our chair Bryan and his family. To our Liberal colleagues, please pass that on to Bryan when you see him.

We’ve gone through this in previous meetings, and I understand that most of you know about it, but we will just go through the introduction to explain a bit about some of the infrastructure that’s here in the committee room with us.

Welcome to today’s meeting on Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada. The objective of today’s meeting is to begin the committee’s clause-by-clause consideration of the bill.

I would like to take a moment to remind those participating in the proceedings, as well as those observing the proceedings of the committee in person or on video, that the committee adopted a motion on September 18 that included instructions for the clerk to explore options to allow for the full participation on this study of all witnesses and members of the public.

As a result, the committee has made arrangements to make all meetings in relation to Bill C-81 as accessible as possible in a variety of ways. This includes providing sign language interpretation and near real-time closed captioning in the room.

Please note that both American Sign Language and Quebec Sign Language are being offered to those who are in our audience. For those who would like to watch the American Sign Language interpretation, please sit on the benches to my left, and for those who would like to watch Quebec Sign Language interpretation, please sit on the benches to my right.

In addition, please note that the first two rows of benches have been reserved for those who wish to avail themselves of these interpretation services. Screens displaying the near real-time closed captioning have also been set up, with the English text to my left and the French text to my right. The sign language interpreters in the room are also being videorecorded for the eventual broadcast of this meeting on ParlVU via the committee’s website.

In light of these arrangements, the committee asks that if you need to leave the room during the meeting, please do not walk in front of the sign language interpreters. Instead, please use the extremities of the room. In addition, we would ask that those in the room remain seated as much as possible during the meeting. We want to ensure that everyone in the audience can clearly see the sign language interpretation.

Finally, if a member of the audience requires assistance at any time, please notify a member of the staff or a committee clerk and we will try to address the issue.

In addition, for my colleagues, as you are well aware, please speak in a relatively slower tone so that our interpreters can keep pace with the discussion that’s happening here this evening.

I’d like to take a moment to welcome the officials who are with us here this evening and are going to be helping us with any questions that we may have on some of the amendments in the clause-by-clause study. Also, we have some guests with us this evening. We’ll get to that in a moment.

From the Department of Employment and Social Development Accessibility Secretariat, we have with us James Van Raalte, director general, accessibility secretariat. James, thanks very much for being with us again. We also have Benoît Gendron, director, and Erik Lapalme, senior policy analyst.

Also, we have with us Ms. Elizabeth May. Thank you very much for joining us this evening, Ms. May. You’ll have some opportunity to put your amendments forward.

Pursuant to the order of reference for Wednesday, September 26, 2018, Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, is what we are discussing this evening.

(1955)

We’ve introduced our witnesses from the department, and now we will begin our clause-by-clause discussion.

Pursuant to Standing Order 75(1), consideration of clause 1, the short title and the preamble are postponed, and we will now begin with clause 2.

(On clause 2)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We have amendment CPC-1 on clause 2. Is there any discussion?

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte (Edmonton Griesbach, CPC):

Yes, Mr. Chair.

I think clause 2 should be amended by adding the word “law” to the definition of “barrier”. This change would help ensure that the barriers created by federal laws are identified, removed and prevented. I move that Bill C-81 in clause 2 be amended by replacing line 11 on page 2 with the following:

that is the result of a law, a policy or a practice—that hinders

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Mr. Diotte.

Is there any discussion on CPC-1? Seeing none, I will call the vote.

(Amendment negatived)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’ll move to LIB-1. Is there any discussion on LIB-1?

Go ahead, Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey (Egmont, Lib.):

The amendment to this particular clause is to add

and it continues. This will ensure that the list of impairments in the definition is not an exhaustive list.

We’re also adding “cognitive” to the list of potential impairments that, in interaction with a barrier, could hinder a person’s full and equal participation in society.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Mr. Morrissey.

Is there any further discussion on LIB-1? Seeing none, I will call the vote.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Moving on to LIB-2, is there any discussion?

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Mr. Chair, we’re adding the word “cognitive” to the list of potential impairments that, in interaction with a barrier, could hinder a person’s full and equal participation in society.

As well, it adds “evident or not” to ensure that invisible disabilities are recognized in the definition, and “any impairment, including” to ensure that the list of impairments in the definition is not an exhaustive list.

(2000)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Mr. Morrissey.

I want to mention that if LIB-2 is adopted, CPC-2 cannot be moved as it will be in conflict.

Is there any further discussion on LIB-2?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster, CPC):

I’m wondering about the difference here between having “cognitive” and “intellectual”.

You’re proposing to add “cognitive” there?

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Yes.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

How does that affect “intellectual”?

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

This simply adds to the list on interaction with a barrier that could hinder a person’s full and equal participation. This came from testimony that was given during the witness hearing process.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on LIB-2? Seeing none—

Sorry; go ahead, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I’m just trying to gather my thoughts. I feel that we’re moving very quickly. I want to make sure this gets done correctly, if that’s okay.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Can you reread the amendment, please?

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

We’re adding the word “cognitive” to the list of potential impairments.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Could we propose an amendment to your amendment? If we added “disability includes”, it would be “includes any impairment, including”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Can you clarify where exactly in the amendment you would want that added?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Right at the beginning, so it would read “disability includes any impairment, physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I see what you’re saying. Rather than saying “disability means” you want to say “disability includes” any impairment.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

That’s correct.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, Lib.):

Does that change the essence? We have it as an “impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication…”. Does the way that you’re proposing it actually change anything because of the order that it’s going in? I don’t know.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

The clerks are just taking a look.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

The clerks are doing what clerks do.

Voices: Oh, oh!

Mr. Dan Ruimy: I’m trying to understand why the flip of words.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I feel that adding it at the beginning gives it purpose. It includes. It’s right off the bat.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

My challenge is that we’re basically saying that an impairment would include all these things, whereas I think flipping it around might change the intent.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I guess when they…. They’re talking right now, so when they—

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I won’t talk, then.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

To Ms. Falk’s question, it is fine. It’s not an issue with the clerk, but if I may, I’ll ask the department officials.

Does changing it to “disability includes any impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive…” change the intent in any way ?

(2005)

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte (Director General, Accessibility Secretariat, Department of Employment and Social Development):

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I don’t think it changed the intent. It is a way of drafting definitions. If you go back to the legislation and the interpretation section, you see “Accessibility Commissioner means”, “barrier means” and “broadcasting undertaking has the same meaning….” It is an interpretation issue from a drafting perspective, from the use of the word: a definition “means” something and includes the following list.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

Go ahead, Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

I had the same question, Mr. Chair. Ms. Falk, are you…?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We have to first vote on the proposed amendment from Ms. Falk, which is that disability “includes” instead of “means”. I’ll call the vote on that amendment to the amendment.

(Subamendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow) Now we’ll go to the vote on LIB-2 as it stands.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow) CPC-2 now cannot be moved.

We’ll now move to LIB-3. I do have to say that conversation with the clerks suggests that LIB-3 does feel inadmissible; however, since it has been put forward by almost everyone on the committee, I would be willing to open the discussion on LIB-3.

Go ahead, Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

By adding the definition of “Indigenous peoples of Canada” we’re providing the clarity. That was one of the issues from the testimony that was given before the committee.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion?

Go ahead, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I’m not sure from what I remember with regard to the testimony that they were asking for a definition. They were asking to be in the bill, which they weren’t at all. I don’t know if they were necessarily asking to be defined. They were just asking to be placed into the bill or to have some type of recognition in the bill.

I don’t know. Does just adding a definition of indigenous people suffice for that? I don’t think so. I guess it depends what comes after this, because I really don’t believe that adding a definition was what they meant by their testimony.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Morrissey, if I can add before further discussion, the reason that it was felt to be inadmissible is that there’s no context to the definition of aboriginal people anywhere else in the bill.

It is much broader than what is—

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

We’re using “indigenous”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, “Indigenous peoples of Canada”. There’s nothing else in what is a broad bill that would address that. I’m passing that on to you.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

The definition is added to support the amendment that comes later to the preamble.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Could you repeat that, please?

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

The definition is added to support the amendment coming later to the preamble. There’s a further amendment later on.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

If it’s okay with Mr. Morrissey, I’ll read the ruling on LIB-3.

Amendment LIB-3 seeks to add a definition of Indigenous peoples of Canada in the interpretation clause. The expression is not used elsewhere in the bill or in other amendments, except in a proposed amendment to the preamble, LIB-69.
As House of Commons Procedure and Practice, third edition, states on page 773:
The interpretation clause of a bill is not the place to propose a substantive amendment to a bill unless other amendments have been adopted that would warrant amendments to the interpretation clause.
Regarding the amendment to the preamble, the same book states, on page 774:
In case of a bill that has been referred to committee after second reading, a substantive amendment to the preamble is admissible only if it is rendered necessary by amendments made to the bill.

(2010)

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Mr. Chair, based on that, I will withdraw it.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

If there is no further discussion, we will withdraw amendment LIB-3.

(Amendment withdrawn)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’ll move to the Green Party amendment, PV-1.

[Expand]

Ms. Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP):

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I first want to put on the record, although it was very polite of you to welcome me to the committee as though I enjoyed the invitation, the motion that was passed by this committee is identical to motions passed by every committee. It uses a backdoor method to deprive me of my rights that I would otherwise have at report stage.

I don’t hold any of you personally responsible for this. It’s top-down. It happened in the 41st Parliament and it happened again in this Parliament. It means that my only opportunity to present amendments is by coming here at clause-by-clause consideration, where my amendments are deemed to have been moved. I don’t have the right to exercise the rights I would otherwise have to put them forward at report stage.

I have to put that disclaimer on the record. I plan to continue to ask for these motions that were passed by every committee to be lifted at some point, because they operate in a way that is onerous and unfair to smaller parties.

In any case, the amendment I’m putting forward, Parti vert 1, deals with an issue that certainly you heard about in witness testimony. There is at this point the possibility, although I would admit it’s unlikely, that a Governor in Council will fail to appoint a minister responsible for this legislation.

In the definition section—and I come back to this in another part of the bill—I propose an amendment that allows for a backstop,so that if the Governor in Council hasn’t appointed a minister, the Minister of Justice will fill that role to ensure that there is a minister responsible for the implementation of this bill.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Ms. May.

I’m just going to ask you to slow down a bit for the interpreters again.

[Expand]

Ms. Elizabeth May:

Shall I start over with the reason that I wish I wasn’t here?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

No, I think we’re okay.

Thank you.

[Expand]

Ms. Elizabeth May:

The amendment I’m putting forward deals with the fact that as a result of the way the bill is currently drafted, there’s a possibility that the Governor in Council doesn’t appoint a minister responsible for this future act. In point of fact, you can’t have legislation that requires the Governor in Council, that being the cabinet, to do anything.

There’s the expectation that a cabinet would appoint someone to be the minister responsible for this legislation for a barrier-free Canada, but nothing requires that there be a minister responsible. If cabinet, through some unusual fluke, did not appoint a minister, then my amendment, which right now appears in the definition section, is to achieve a backstop, so that there would always be a minister responsible if cabinet hadn’t acted to appoint one.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Ms. May.

Is there any further discussion?

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will move on to the vote on clause 2. We just went through clause 2 and made some amendments. We have made two amendments to clause 2. We are now voting on clause 2 as amended.

(Clause 2 as amended agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We are now moving on to clause 3. There were no amendments tabled on clause 3.

(Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’re almost there. My count is 237 clauses.

(On clause 5)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We now move on to clause 5 and amendment LIB-4.

Go ahead, Mr. Morrissey.

(2015)

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

This amendment, Mr. Chair, removes the word “progressive” from the clause. This is in response to stakeholder concerns that the use of “progressive” may lead to delayed implementation. This amendment makes clear a commitment to the goal of seeing a barrier-free Canada.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any discussion on LIB-4?

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We now move on to CPC-3. Is there any discussion on CPC-3?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We’re proposing that clause 5 be amended by replacing line 11 on page 3 with the following:

realization over a ten-year period, within the purview of matters coming within

The reason we’re suggesting this change is that we must include a specific year or period of time by which a Canada without barriers will be achieved, so it’s 10 years after coming into force.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Go ahead, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall (Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, CPC):

Thank you.

Further to Ms. Falk’s comment, one of the things we saw in the bill was an overall lack of teeth in timelines and in reporting back. I think this amendment is speaking to that very subject. I certainly would like to see it included.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion?

Go ahead, Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle (Windsor—Tecumseh, NDP):

Just to note, Mr. Chair, that’s also my amendment, the next one, if that matters to any of you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Take that as you will.

Is there any further discussion on CPC-3?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Can we have a recorded vote?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Okay, we’ll have a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

As a result of the previous vote, NDP-1 cannot be moved as it’s identical to the previous amendment. That will be the same with CPC-4.

We now move to CPC-4.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

The amendment reads:

That Bill C-81, in Clause 5, be amended by adding after line 18 on page 3 the following:
(c.1) communication

We believe it’s essential to identify, remove and prevent barriers related to communication. The bill must be clarified to ensure that communication is addressed within each of the areas enumerated in clause 5 in a manner that complements existing legal obligations to accommodate persons with disabilities.

(2020)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

I want to be clear on CPC-4. If it is adopted, LIB-5 cannot be moved, for reasons of consistency.

Is there any further discussion on CPC-4?

(Amendment negatived)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We now move to LIB-5. If LIB-5 is adopted, CPC-5 cannot be moved because of a line conflict.

Is there any discussion on LIB-5?

Go ahead, Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Mr. Chair, many members of the disability community came to the committee and identified accessibility and communication as a priority for their community. These amendments will strengthen the bill in those areas and deal with the concerns that were addressed to this committee during the testimony stage.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Morrissey.

Is there any further discussion on LIB-5?

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We adopted LIB-5, so CPC-5 cannot be moved; therefore, we are finished with clause 5.

(Clause 5 as amended agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We now move on to LIB-6.

Is there any discussion, Mr. Morrissey?

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Mr. Chair, this motion clarifies that communications does not include broadcasting or telecommunications.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion?

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(On clause 6)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We will move on to LIB-7. If LIB-7 is adopted, NDP-0.2, LIB-8 and PV-2 cannot be moved, because there is a line conflict.

Is there any discussion on LIB-7?

Go ahead, Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long (Saint John—Rothesay, Lib.):

Thank you, and thank you for stepping in tonight, Mr. Chair, on behalf of MP May.

Through amendment LIB-7, we would like to remove all reference to “abilities” within clause 6. I can read that if you like.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Does anybody need that read, or have you already read the amendment?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

That would be nice.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Go ahead, Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

It reads:

That Bill C-81, in Clause 6, be amended by
(a) replacing line 4 on page 4 with the following:
“of their disabilities;”
(b) replacing line 7 on page 4 with the following:
“wish to have regardless of their disabilities”
(c) replacing line 12 on page 4 with the following:
“disabilities;”
(d) replacing line 15 on page 4 with the following:
“desire, regardless of their disabilities; and”
(e) replacing line 17 on page 4 with the following:
“must take into account the disabilities of”

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Go ahead, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I’m just wondering what the purpose is of taking out “abilities”.

(2025)

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We want the preamble to ensure that the focus of the bill remains on persons with disabilities. We think it’s clearer that way.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Go ahead, Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thank you very much. I just want to point out that this is the same as the amendment I have proposed. One way to look at it is that when you have the words “abilities” and “disabilities” in there, it creates problems from a disability perspective in that somebody with no disability can, under the act, claim to be entitled to certain kinds of accommodations. It just makes it less clear when you say “abilities” and “disabilities”. In a disability act you just need to say “disability”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

Go ahead, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Can I, through you, ask James to provide us with a rationale?

I did speak with you and the minister, and this was brought up in our conversations regarding focusing on, as a whole, not just the disabilities but also the abilities of the individuals who are being helped through this bill. Could you provide us with a little bit of background on why the words “abilities” and “disabilities” were put into the bill?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

There’s a consistency issue with the definitions of “barrier” and “impairment” that have been adopted. This becomes far more consistent with the issue of defining “impairment”.

People with abilities, by definition, do not have an impairment. I would defer to the member who raised the previous comment that the legislation focuses on disabilities. I would also add that during testimony, both written and in person, there have been, I believe, concerns over issues around “ableism”, which I think is a cause for concern within the stakeholder community.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Mr. Chair, my question was about the thinking involved in having it in there in the beginning.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The intention from the very beginning was to be as inclusive as possible, recognizing a full range of abilities and disabilities, but as has been pointed out through witness testimony, that’s not necessary.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on amendment LIB-7?

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Chair, I want to suggest to you that amendment LIB-8 is still movable if we pass LIB-7. All we’re doing is adding paragraph 6(f) and substituting the language in LIB-7.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Long.

I think we can proceed with LIB-8. I think we could just do some work on the amendment. We’ll keep LIB-8 on the books right now and we’ll get through LIB-7 first.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Okay.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on LIB-7?

(Amendment agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’ll move on to LIB-8.

Mr. Long, is there any discussion?

(2030)

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

I’ll read it out.

I move that Bill C-81, in clause 6, be amended by replacing lines 15 to 20 on page 4 with the following: “desire, regardless of their abilities”—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Sorry, Mr. Long.

The issue is on LIB-8. Your goal in the previous LIB-7 was to remove the word “abilities”. It is still in LIB-8, which causes a bit of a conflict with your previous—

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We’ll strike “abilities”, right?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

It will be “structures must take into account the disabilities of persons”. Do you want to take out “the abilities and”?

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We want to make it “desire, regardless of their disabilities”, so we’ll take out “abilities or”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Right.

Mr. Long, we’re going to go to paragraph (e) as well. You have—

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Yes, it will be exactly as the other, except that we’re removing “abilities and”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I think we’re okay there.

Does everybody understand what we’re amending with the amendment, before we go too far?

We will suspend for a couple of minutes so the legislative clerks can take a peek at it. We’re in suspension.

(2030)

(2035)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’ll come back.

After some heated discussion with my legal counsel, I have proven them incorrect. No.

Mr. Long, we are able to vote on LIB-8 as is and they will make the change. It just makes it a little simpler.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Yes.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

If there is no further discussion on LIB-8, we’ll go to the vote.

Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Mr. Chair, I have a question for the mover of the motion. You’ve added on paragraph (f), right?

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Can you say that again?

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Paragraph (f) is added to clause 6. What is the difference between…is there any change related to this in the bill?

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

The reason for paragraph (f) is it ensures the highest level of accessibility prevails in the event there are two standards. To us it clarifies the language. It tightens it up.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Can you give me an example? I’m trying to understand the need. In the preamble itself, the point is made.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

There could be a conflict between provincial and federal standards. If it’s a ramp versus the lift, or what have you, this will ensure the highest level of accessibility would prevail. That came out of our conversation.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

But who defines that, and what does it mean? It’s not between federal and provincial. We’re just talking about federally regulated marketplaces where the provincial standards don’t matter.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We discussed this internally and we felt that this was the best language going forward.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

It may be that it’s good and needs to be there; just help me understand that. Is this clause changing anything in the bill?

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

It ensures the highest level of accessibility is the standard that’s used. It’s pretty straightforward.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Could you guys go one at a time and a little slower for our interpreters? I will give you the floor when it’s your turn.

Go ahead, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Mr. Chair, I’m trying to drive home the understanding behind the amendment. I think it should go without saying, but it doesn’t. Then does it get covered in the preamble? I’m just trying to understand why we’re adding this in here at this point in the bill. It feels as if we could add this in almost every clause, because that’s the point of the bill.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Go ahead, Mr. Long.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

I think I’ve said it, but the intention is to define that regulations need to be made to the highest standards. CASDO would be compelled to accept the highest standard if there’s a provincial or a federal standard. I think what we’re trying to do here is pretty clear.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Just to clarify, because I’m going to work with it—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Nuttall—

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Sorry about that, Mr. Chair. I’m a repeat offender at this point, and I’m probably going to continue to be.

What you’re trying to say is if there are multiple sets of standards governing any organization or sector of the marketplace or government building, the higher of those two standards needs to be enforced. Is that correct?

(2040)

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Yes.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

I think it can be more clearly defined than this.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Go ahead, Mr. Vaughan.

[Expand]

Mr. Adam Vaughan (Spadina—Fort York, Lib.):

I can give you an example as it relates to the building code. At one point the highest and best standard for elevators was to have Braille on the buttons. Since then, it’s Braille, and the audio announces floors.

In an evolving environment around universal design, with input from people’s lived experience, standards elevate—if I can use the elevator analogy again—and as they elevate, they’re saying if the newest, highest and best standard has two dimensions as opposed to a single dimension, that prevails.

The standard that constitutes accessibility in accommodation migrates to the highest possible standard at all times, and that’s the goal of the legislation. Instead of having to constantly revisit the standards and constantly detail the standards piece by piece and change by change, when a new benchmark is achieved, that is the new benchmark—

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

It essentially sets the bar higher.

[Expand]

Mr. Adam Vaughan:

—that it’s measured against. There’s no retroactive requirement, but if you’re putting in a new elevator and you say that’s the highest and best standard, that’s what we do.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Okay, Mr. Vaughan.

Go ahead, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Mr. Chair, I do completely understand why you’re being very definitive on who is speaking. It’s because when they’re doing the interpreting, we want to make sure it’s the right person saying the right thing.

On that, I’m 100% supportive of that measure and I can’t even vote, but I’m not sure that’s captured in this exact wording. If that is the intent, can we get wording that captures that intent?

It’s not very clearly communicated; maybe that’s a better way to describe it, or perhaps it’s just me.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Just one second.

Mr. Long, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

We’ve certainly batted this around our table, and we feel that the language is appropriate. We think it is clear, and I think we should vote on it as is.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Nuttall, do you mind if I ask the department officials?

Have you seen the discussion on that? Is there any input on the clarity of that clause?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

No, Mr. Chair.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

Mr. Nuttall, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Without being combative, I’ll say that the mover had a difficult time explaining it, so it can’t be that clear. If he’s unable to actually explain it, then that makes it very difficult.

I do understand what they’re trying to achieve—and I support what they’re trying to achieve—but the language can’t be very clear if not even the mover can explain it.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Long, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Chair, I think that’s an unfair comment. That’s just his interpretation. That’s just cause for further debate.

Again, let’s vote.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on LIB-8.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Because LIB-8 was carried, PV-2 cannot be moved due to conflict.

We move to CPC-6.

Mrs. Falk, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

The amendment reads:

That Bill C-81, in Clause 6, be amended by adding after line 20 on page 4 the following:
“(2) For greater certainty, in the event of any inconsistency between the provisions of this Act and the provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act, the provisions of that Act prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.”

We believe that Bill C-81 must clarify that nothing in the act lessens the existing human rights obligations of federally regulated entities under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and that where a conflict arises between the act and another law, the law that provides the greatest accessibility for persons with disabilities will apply.

As the bill is currently written, our fear is that the CTA and the CRTC—more so the CTA—would create standards that wouldn’t live up to the provisions of the Canadian Human Rights Act. Even though the CTA could create standards that meet the low bar set by this legislation, it might not meet the high bar of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

(2045)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Mrs. Falk.

Is there any further discussion on CPC-6?

Ms. Hardcastle, go ahead.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I’d also like to point out that this is the same substance as my amendment, which follows, and the theme is very similar to what we just dealt with. It means that in no way can already existing human rights be taken away, that they prevail, in terms of the discussion we had earlier. Nothing can supersede the Human Rights Act.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on CPC-6?

(Amendment negatived)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): NDP-0.3 is identical to the previous amendment, which was denied.

Ms. Hardcastle, go ahead.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Can I just have clarification? We don’t vote on mine when the two are the same. Is that right?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That’s correct.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Is there any way that we can still comment or come back to it?

I’m just asking for a suggestion. How would you suggest that we ensure language so that the Human Rights Act does prevail?

[Expand]

Mr. Adam Vaughan:

[Inaudible—Editor]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle: We don’t have that language right now.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

One at a time, Mr. Vaughan. One at a time, guys.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Okay, thanks.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

To answer that, it actually does do that. If you put it into this bill, you’re setting a precedent that it needs to be put into every single bill. It already does, in fact, do what it’s supposed to do.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

Mrs. Falk, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I don’t know if the clerks can answer this question, but could it be interpreted otherwise? If this isn’t in there, could that be interpreted that…?

Oh, sorry. It’s late.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’re not even halfway there.

Can the department shed some light on that at all?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

The Canadian Human Rights Act will prevail.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Even if it’s not…?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

It’s quasi-constitutional.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Okay.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much.

Okay. That is—

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

If I may add, Mr. Chair, when this bill was tabled, the Minister of Justice tabled a charter statement associated with the bill, and any of those issues would have been required to be flagged when that charter statement was submitted.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thanks, Mr. Van Raalte.

Now, we have made a couple of amendments to clause 6, so I’d like to call the vote on approving clause 6 as amended.

(Clause 6 as amended agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Mr. Ruimy, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Could we just group clauses 7, 8, 9 and 10, because they all stay the same?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy, would you allow the chair to do his job, please?

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I’m sorry.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy, that is a fantastic idea.

Voices: Oh, oh!

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): May I get unanimous consent from the committee to apply the votes for the next four?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

(Clauses 7 to 10 inclusive agreed to)

(On clause 11)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Thank you, Mr. Ruimy. That was a fantastic idea.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I’m just doing my job. I do the best I can.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We will now move to LIB-9.

Is there any discussion?

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Mr. Chair, this is simply consequential to the change made in LIB-4 dealing with removing “progressive”.

(2050)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any other discussion LIB-9?

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): On CPC-7, we have Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We are suggesting the following:

That Bill C-81, in Clause 11, be amended by replacing line 2 on page 6 with the following:
“tion of a Canada without barriers over a ten-year period.”

We would be adding in that timeline.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle, you were asking about what happens if this is passed or denied. Your next amendment is very similar. I would suggest, when you see it, maybe have your comments to that amendment that’s ahead of yours so you have the opportunity to do that. If you want to comment on that now, it would probably be your best opportunity.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

It’s a darn good idea.

Voices: Oh, oh!

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Hear, hear!

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Was that all?

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle: That’s it.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): You encapsulated it very well.

Mr. Dan Ruimy: Great job.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

This is going to be a long night if you give me free rein all the time.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

Is there any further discussion on CPC-7?

Mrs. Falk, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

May we request a recorded vote, please?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’ll move to PV-3.

Ms. May, go ahead.

[Expand]

Ms. Elizabeth May:

Thanks, Mr. Chair.

This definitely has the same spirit to it as the CPC-7 amendment that was just defeated. As we heard from numerous witnesses and groups advocating for the rights of the disabled and calling for a barrier-free Canada, there is tremendous disappointment in this bill for its lack of timelines and for the notion of progressive realization of a Canada without barriers.

I’ll remind you of some of the testimony. As Dr. Paré, a contributor to the United Nations “Handbook for Parliamentarians”, mentioned, a term like “progressive realization” has its place in international law to facilitate consensus, but she says, “I find that reference to progressive realization is acceptable only if it is tied to a timeline or something else tangible. ”

Of course, David Lepofsky, from the AODA Alliance, has been very clear that progressive realization within this bill could mean that we don’t see a barrier-free Canada for a very long time.

My amendment here, PV-3, is to insert, under the mandate of the minister, after the proposed subsection on powers, new proposed subsections 11(3) and 11(4). This is to ensure that the minister must prepare a plan to set out these objectives, that the plan must be ready within 10 years after the section comes into force, and that the plan must be prepared within one year after the day on which the section comes into force.

Again, it creates a one-year timeline to develop objectives so that they are achieved within 10 years of the bill coming into force.

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thanks, Ms. May.

Mr. Nuttall, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Mr. Chair, I just have a question for the mover of the motion. Just to confirm, as of today, in what decade will we reach a barrier-free Canada?

[Expand]

Ms. Elizabeth May:

This would depend on when the bill enters into force, but assuming it entered into force in 2019, the barrier-free Canada objectives should be met by 2028.

(2055)

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Without your amendment, is that still the case?

[Expand]

Ms. Elizabeth May:

No.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Just to be clear, we don’t have a defined timeline on when we’re trying to reach the goals this bill is advocating.

[Expand]

Ms. Elizabeth May:

As it now stands—and this was one of the consistent criticisms of the legislation—there’s good intention but without a timeline. As I recall one comment, progressive realization of a barrier-free Canada could be one disability ramp installed somewhere in Canada once a year. That would get us a barrier-free Canada sometime in the next few centuries.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Maybe.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Ms. May.

Mrs. Falk, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I just wanted to add for the record, too, that without having a timeline, how do we measure? How do we hold either the department or the government accountable, because there’s no way to measure that? We heard this countless times throughout testimony.

I think that it is so important, and we’ve heard from our stakeholders loud and clear that it is important to have timelines in this bill.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thanks, Mrs. Falk.

Mr. Diotte, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Yes, I would certainly concur with that. It’s a bit of an insult to all the people who testified here and called out for timelines that we wouldn’t adhere to such a very basic thing as to include a timeline when Canada would become accessible. It’s an absolute must.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

We actually heard quite a few different things. We heard different types of timelines. In speaking to Ms. May’s “progressive”, we’re actually removing the word “progressive” from “progressive realization”. We’re removing that anyway.

There was a lot of testimony that also spoke to an evolution to get to where we need to go, because it’s ongoing. That’s part of the challenge right now. Lots of people talked about timelines, but they weren’t specific, and they were for both sides.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle, go ahead.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I have to respectfully disagree with my honourable colleague. When people were presenting the idea of how this was going to evolve, it was because we know, just by the very nature of it, that there are going to be innovations and new ways in which we’re increasingly removing barriers to participation for people living with all these different abilities, and we’re going to find them. That was the whole point.

Without some kind of a timeline here, there’s no impetus for this to actually move forward. Unless there is an amendment coming from my colleagues on the governing side further on, this is our chance right now. Ten years is extremely reasonable to reach certain objectives or mile markers, and that’s what we need. For this bill to pass, to be tabled, we have to hit the ground running for certain markers to be hit by a certain timeline. Otherwise, we know what will happen—nothing. We’ll just keep moving without a deadline. The deadline doesn’t have to be a stop-dead, drop-dead deadline. This is a marker where you hit certain objectives and then you move forward from that.

I understand the conundrum about having realization, but if we use the word “realization” rather than “progressive realization” it still doesn’t do the job for us that we need, which is something that is more defined in terms of where we’re going to meet certain objectives in a certain period of time. This is a very reasonable period of time. A decade is very reasonable.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Nuttall, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I think there’s a fundamental issue here that I believe Ms. Ruimy has heard me talk about in a different committee, which is targets and goals and measurement. The problem right now is that, if it’s left as is, the only measurement we will have in place is actually the amount of money spent. If a plan doesn’t have a threshold, in terms of the timeline of when it should be achieved, it will keep going on for ever and ever.

I would actually ask my Liberal colleagues around this table to really consider this. Those measurements are not actually in place for you as Liberals. They’re in place for the Government of Canada. The Government of Canada can comprise many different iterations. We don’t know what the next government will look like, and we don’t know what the government after that will look like. In six years, it could be the Communist Party of Canada that could be forming the government.

At that point, maybe there won’t be a continuation of the good will that’s sitting in your caucus, but you do want that good will to be legislated so that work is actually continued. If it’s not going to be met and not going to be continued, then they should have to change it legislatively and then report back to the people of Canada and be held accountable for that change in direction. Right now, they could just walk away and not do anything, throw their hands in the air, and nothing will have been actually achieved. Then what was the purpose of the bill in the first place?

That’s actually the problem we’ve heard about from stakeholders over and over again. I wasn’t at committee the whole time, but I definitely met with quite a number of stakeholders who were all saying that there are just not enough teeth. There’s not enough detail. There’s not enough telling us when and how this is going to be instituted. There are not enough teeth to determine when and how everything that’s outlined in this bill is actually going to be achieved.

If it’s not 10 years, then when? I think that’s the question. If it’s unreasonable that the Green Party, the New Democrats and the Conservatives are all saying 10 years—if that’s not a reasonable thing to vote for—then how long is it? Is it 15, 20 or 100 years? What’s the number? There has to be one in order to ensure accountability, not just for this government but for every successive government in the future.

(2100)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thanks, Mr. Nuttall.

Ms. Young, go ahead.

[Expand]

Ms. Kate Young (London West, Lib.):

Thank you.

I just wanted to remind the committee of what Minister Qualtrough said when she appeared before the committee at the very beginning of this discussion. She was very concerned about setting timelines. One of the reasons is that if there’s a 10-year timeline, it tells people they don’t have to do anything for nine years.

The fact of the matter is that we want this to start immediately, once the law becomes enacted. Timelines should be part of the regulations, not part of legislation. I think that will determine any timelines moving forward.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Nuttall, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

I have a quick question for Ms. Young. Will your regulations then be brought back to Parliament, in order for us to vote on the timelines related to each of the regulatory changes that will be taking place?

[Expand]

Ms. Kate Young:

No, that would not—

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Then there’s no accountability.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. May, go ahead.

[Expand]

Ms. Elizabeth May:

I appreciate the chance to engage again, Mr. Chair.

In response to Kate’s points, that’s why I have a double-barrelled amendment here. The 10 years doesn’t hang out by itself in the abstract. It requires a plan prepared within one year. That plan speaks to achievables over time, with a 10-year deadline.

I don’t think it would be possible, without a great deal of political risk, for a minister to design a plan that didn’t start until year nine. You’d have to design a plan that’s going to meet that objective. It’s a 10-year objective. You have measurables that you’re going to develop for years one, two, three and so forth.

I think that is not uncommon in legislation at all. Otherwise, we have something just hanging out there that could fade into the background.

Waiting for regulations…. This is just one example, but Vanessa’s Law, which was passed in the last Parliament, still has no regulations attached to it. We’re waiting to make sure we’re reporting symptoms from pharmaceuticals that might be killing people. We still have no regulations, and it’s four years later.

I don’t want to wait for regulations. Honestly, I think members around this table could make a huge contribution to a barrier-free Canada by accepting my amendment, which is then reviewable by Parliament on a regular basis.

(2105)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Ms. May.

Mr. Ruimy, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I’d like to say a couple of things.

We heard from the Province of Ontario, which has a 10-year time limit. We heard directly from the witnesses that it was woefully inadequate. They’re nowhere close to being barrier-free.

Speaking to other specific timelines, we actually do have deadlines that we will be introducing as we move further down.

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Diotte, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Further to that, we heard from David Lepofsky, the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. Here are some quotes from him: “Timelines are needed…. [T]he bill is lacking an ultimate deadline for achieving full accessibility…. We need an end deadline. Without it, progress will be slower.”

Mr. Lepofsky goes on to say:

You’ve heard from many groups that have said we need that, and I don’t know if you’ve heard from any groups that said we don’t. The only person who’s come before this committee, I believe, to make a case against doing that, and correct me if I’m wrong, is Minister Qualtrough, who may have said, or someone may have said, “Well, we don’t have a timeline in the Criminal Code to be crime free.” It’s a wrong comparison.
We have a criminal code because we know that unfortunately in our society, there will always be violence and so on. We need laws to protect us when that happens. On the other hand, we can achieve full accessibility by a deadline if we set the deadline.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Mr. Diotte.

Is there any further discussion on PV-3?

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk: Mr. Chair, can we have a recorded vote, please?

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 11 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 12)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We move to NDP-2.

Is there any discussion on NDP-2? Ms. Hardcastle, go ahead.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The amendment is proposed for the purpose of ensuring that there is independence for the entity created in the bill—reporting to Parliament, not to government.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Ms. Hardcastle.

Is there any further discussion on NDP-2?

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 12 agreed to)

(On clause 13)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’re on lucky 13.

I feel like a bingo caller.

Voices: Oh, oh!

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): No one’s called bingo, though.

We now move to CPC-8.

Mrs. Falk, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

The amendment reads:

That Bill C-81, in Clause 13, be amended by adding after line 17 on page 6 the following:
“(2) Priority should be given to ensuring that any information, product or service that he or she provides is without barriers and that any document he or she creates is in an accessible format and in plain language.
(3) The Minister must not refuse any document that is in an accessible format or in plain language.”

Basically we’re requesting that the focus be on making all government documents accessible—documents coming to government and those available from government. I know we heard a lot, especially in terms of intellectual disabilities, with regard to having a simplicity of plain language and more accessibility for people with intellectual disabilities.

(2110)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Mrs. Falk.

Is there any further discussion on CPC-8?

(Amendment negatived)

(Clauses 13 and 14 agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Yes, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Is it possible for us to take a quick break?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes.

Is everybody okay with a five-minute break? We’ve been at it for just over an hour. Is five minutes good with everybody?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Okay. We’ll suspend for five.

(2110)

(2125)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ll come back.

I appreciate your finishing this bill during the break. It’s much appreciated. Thank you very much. Maybe we won’t have to stay until 11 o’clock tonight if you keep getting that work done. The stakeholders watching at home or listening here might actually be able to get to bed early tonight instead of having to stay up and listen to the proceedings.

(On clause 15)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We will go back to where we were. We will come back to CPC-9 in clause 15, line 21. Are there any comments on CPC-9?

Mr. Diotte, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Mr. Chair, the amendment reads:

That Bill C-81, in Clause 15, be amended by replacing line 21 on page 6 with the following:
“15 Subject to the Statistics Act, the Minister must collect,”

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Again, Ms. Hardcastle, this is identical to yours, which is next. Do you want to make a comment?

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Yes, “the Minister must collect”, and not “may collect”, is important.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Ms. Hardcastle.

Are there any other comments on CPC-9?

Mr. Diotte, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

It’s not a comment, but I’d like a recorded vote on this.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Nuttall, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

I think this is on the same topic of accountability down the road.

We don’t have a timeline, and we don’t really have a plan for a timeline. The only thing we really have is information updates that tell us how well this is being implemented or not implemented.

It would require StatsCan because, out of the public sector, markets are going to be affected by this, so we want to know what the reporting is, how well they’re doing, etc. If there’s no mandatory trigger to pull that information out, I’m not sure how we’re going to stay on top of it, except for somebody saying somewhere that they think it’s in this place but they don’t actually have the data to back it up.

That, I think, is where the feeling was in terms of “must” versus “may”. And I don’t want “may” to equal 20 years. I want “must” to equal continuously.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Nuttall.

Mrs. Falk, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I also think that language will continue and maybe even accelerate culture change. I think changing the language to something that’s more accountable is going to send a strong message that this is something that must be done and will help influence that culture change for accessibility.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mrs. Falk.

Are there any other comments on CPC-9?

Mr. Ruimy, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

My understanding is that we can’t change “may” to “must”, because we can’t compel the agency or the Queen to do that. I think the folks at the other end can explain that, the “may” to “must”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Van Raalte, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The use of “may” is consistent with Westminster democracies, and it’s consistent with drafting. It is enabling legislation. But the decision is the choice of the committee.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Van Raalte.

A recorded vote has been requested.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): It is denied, and therefore NDP-2.1 is also denied, as it is identical.

We now move to CPC-9.1.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, I have a question.

Mine was coming next, NDP-2.1.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That’s correct.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Can I change mine, then, to “shall” instead of “must”?

(2130)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Do you want to make an amendment to your amendment?

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Yes. That way we can try this again—with “shall”. This language is really important. I feel that we need to revisit this and get a grip again, because we’re losing some of the traction that we started building on.

Would you consider the word “shall”? That will be my amendment.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I’m sorry, Ms. Hardcastle, but the feeling from the clerk is that it is still the same amendment, so because it was voted on in the previous one, it cannot be brought back forward. You could have made the amendment to the CPC amendment, but because of how it works, once that was denied, the following one, which was identical, was denied. We cannot go back.

Does that explain it?

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Yes, it explains it.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

We now go to CPC-9.1. If CPC-9.1 is adopted, NDP-2.2 cannot be moved because of consistency.

Is there any discussion on CPC-9.1?

Mr. Diotte, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

The amendment reads:

That Bill C-81, in Clause 15, be amended by adding after line 23 on page 6 the following:
“(2) The Minister must elaborate a plan establishing the objectives to be reached in order to progressively realize a Canada without barriers over a ten-year period.
(3) The Minister must cause the plan to be laid before each House of Parliament on any of the first 15 days on which that House is sitting after the report is completed.
(4) The Minister must, on a continuing basis, collect, analyse, interpret, publish and distribute information in relation to progress made in achieving a Canada without barriers.”

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Diotte.

Is there any further discussion on that?

Ms. Hardcastle, go ahead.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I just want to clarify this. Is my amendment coming forward at the same time, then? Are we working on them now? Is it too late for me to change mine now?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Are you asking to change your NDP-2.2?

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Yes, the one that’s the same as this one now, CPC-9.1. Mine is NDP-2.2.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

If CPC-9.1, which we are discussing now, is not passed, we will still go to NDP-2.2. However, if CPC-9.1 is passed, that will make yours basically passed as well.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Okay. Is there any—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We can get the will of the committee. If there’s a feeling that CPC-9.1 will not pass, then you can still make changes to yours, because we will be discussing it next.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Okay. Thank you for indulging me.

After that, I don’t know when the appropriate time to do this will be. At what point can I give notice that…? This is going to keep coming up. I want to use a different word than the one before.

If I give notice to you that I want to use the word “shall”—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

On several of your—

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Yes, for the ones that are coming up, will I have to deal with it in a group?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

May I make a suggestion, Ms. Hardcastle? Rather than do that, because we would be jumping back and forth…. The reason we’re in this predicament is that they’re so similar. I would suggest you make an amendment to the CPC or Liberal amendment before yours—

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Okay.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

—which is also what you’re dealing with. Try to get that done as part of the amendment that comes before yours.

The reason we’re in this predicament is that they’re very similar. If you try to amend the one before yours, that would address your problem.

(2135)

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Do mine always come after?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

It’s about whose were submitted first, and yours were submitted last.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Okay. Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

You’re welcome.

Is there any further discussion?

Mrs. Falk, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I want to add, on this amendment, that we believe it will help hold the minister accountable, so the minister would be establishing benchmarks for realizing a Canada without barriers, and the minister should establish timelines for meeting those benchmarks. An additional subsection would be added requiring the minister to collect, analyze, interpret, publish and distribute information regarding progress being made towards meeting those benchmarks.

It’s another opportunity to hold the minister accountable.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thanks, Mrs. Falk.

Mr. Nuttall, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

When we’re looking at all of these—because I think there are going to be quite a number of them and they are coming from multiple parties, in fact all parties except the Liberal Party—I think it’s important to answer the question why. Why do we want timelines? Why do we want accountability of the minister?

We would like accountability of the minister not just for some political gain or for some political purpose or any “gotcha” game in the House of Commons or in this committee. We want accountability for the same reason that all of us care so much about this bill, which is that it’s here to help Canadians who are living with disabilities be able to live a more fulsome life and have access to so many more things.

When we don’t have accountability, we know what happens. The problem is that when we don’t have accountability, the idea we’re trying to achieve will not be achieved. It’s not just some political game in the House of Parliament. It’s real people at home with real issues who are going to be affected by our not putting into place the right triggers, timelines and deadlines to ensure that there is accountability for what is happening on the ground across this country.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Mr. Nuttall.

Is there any further discussion on CPC-9.1?

Ms. Hardcastle, is there an amendment you want to bring up on this one? I’m just trying to give you the opportunity in case this passes. It may not, but….

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I don’t know. I’m lost procedurally. I can’t amend mine; I have to amend the one that’s here before we know whether it passes or not.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That’s correct.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Okay.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I know it sounds confusing, but if this one is not passed, we will discuss your next one, NDP-2.2. However, if this….

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

But I won’t get to amend it.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

When we discuss it, you will.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Oh, I will get to amend mine if this one doesn’t pass. Okay.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That’s correct.

Mr. Diotte, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

I would like a recorded vote on this as well.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

Is there further discussion on CPC-9.1?

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): It is defeated, and therefore we go to NDP 2.2.

Is there any discussion?

Ms. Hardcastle, go ahead.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

May I make an amendment to this one, then?

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Yes.

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle: I would like to change the word to “shall”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That’s in proposed subclauses 15(2) and 15(3).

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Yes. I would like to change the word “must” to the word “shall”, in the hope that it will be more palatable to my colleagues across the way so that it will pass.

(2140)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Ms. Hardcastle.

The concern with “shall” is that it’s ambiguous language. We have been using “may” or “must”.

Mr. Van Raalte, do you have any concerns with the word “shall” in place of “must”? We’re giving you a lot of “may”, “must” and “shall” tonight.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The current drafting protocol is “must” versus “may”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Where would “shall” come into that?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

It’s old. It is too ambiguous from an interpretation perspective, which is why the drafting has moved toward “may” versus “must”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

I think, then, the feeling would be that—

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

We’ve already given this a go with the word “must”. I’ll stand with my amendment with the word “shall”, and let’s see what happens—with a recorded vote, please.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Okay.

Go ahead, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

I have a point of clarification, because I do want to speak to the main motion. Are we on an amendment to change it to “shall” in the motion—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That’s correct.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

—or is it that the motion is the amendment to the clause right now?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’re going to be doing an amendment to the amendment.

Ms. Hardcastle will have to move an amendment to the amendment to change “must” to “shall”.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Can she not move it with “shall”?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Because it’s your amendment, Ms. Hardcastle, you can’t make the amendment unless we have unanimous consent to do that.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Okay.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

It won’t be an amendment to the amendment. Your amendment will now be “shall” instead of “must”. We will be doing one vote on that.

Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

I think she has moved the motion with the word “shall”. Is that what’s happened?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Right, but before we do that, we have to have unanimous consent to allow it to happen.

Do we have unanimous consent for Ms. Hardcastle to change the word in her amendment from “must” to “shall”?

Go ahead, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Yes. I’m agreeing.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I’m sorry. I thought you had a comment.

I need unanimous consent for that to happen. No?

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

We’ve already heard the reason that “shall” should not be used. That’s why I thought you were overruling that.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We are dealing with NDP-2.2, with the word “must” as part of the amendment. Is there any further discussion?

Go ahead, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Could I ask a question to Mr. Van Raalte?

In terms of timelines, obviously the broader picture wasn’t put into the bill. We’ve heard part of the explanation about that.

Is your staff open to any timelines that would provide accountability?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Mr. Chair, I think that’s a question better addressed to the minister. That’s a political question—

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

It’s a—

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

The public service loyally implements.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Mr. Van Raalte, is it your recommendation that there be timelines within the bill that provide an opportunity to understand how successful the private sector and public sector are being in achieving a barrier-free Canada?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Again, Mr. Chair, the role of the public service…. We have provided our advice to the minister and we will loyally implement.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Go ahead, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Mr. Van Raalte, is it your recommendation, or has it been recommended by you and your staff, that there be timelines attached to the goals that this bill is trying to achieve?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Just a second, Mr. Nuttall.

Go ahead, Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Mr. Chair, on a point of order, he’s asked the same question, and they’ve answered. He’s asking it a third time. I don’t understand why we keep asking the same question and getting the same answer.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thanks, Mr. Ruimy.

I’ll let Mr. Van Raalte answer, and then we’ll go to Mr. Sangha.

(2145)

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

With respect, Mr. Chair, the advice that has been provided is a cabinet confidence.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

Go ahead, Mr. Sangha.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha (Brampton Centre, Lib.):

Mr. Chair, this is not the stage to ask questions. I think we are just delaying everything. We should be deciding whether amendments should be allowed or not, but not all these questions and then debating and delaying things. If we have to move forward, then we have to move forward with the facts, whether we are ready to accept them or not.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Sangha, to your question, the department officials are here specifically to answer questions from the committee members. That is what they are here for. If committee members have questions of the department on the amendments, they are more than welcome to ask those questions.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

Okay. It’s your ruling.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Go ahead, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I want to respond to that through you, Mr. Chair, if allowed.

Our job is to make sure this is done to the best quality that it can be. Our opportunity to have wholesome debate should be allowed. I think we should respect where each side is coming from and allow debate to happen.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thanks, Ms. Falk.

Are there any other comments on NDP-2.2?

Seeing none, I will call the vote—

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Can we have a recorded vote, please?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Right—sorry. Ms. Hardcastle requested a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 15 agreed to)

(On clause 16)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We now move to LIB-9.1

Go ahead, Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

We heard quite a bit from stakeholders that the duty for the minister to collaborate with provinces and territories should be mandatory. In this case, the amendment is the following:

That Bill C-81, in Clause 16, be amended by replacing line 24 with the following:
“16 The Minister must make every reasonable effort to collaborate with provincial or territorial”

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thanks, Mr. Ruimy.

There are amendments from the CPC and the NDP that are very, very similar. If we approve LIB-9.1, those other two amendments will be moot. I’m assuming we will have a lot of support for LIB-9.1.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Let’s see.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Well, the mood may have changed.

(Amendment agreed to)

(Clause 16 as amended agreed to)

(On clause 17)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We move to amendment CPC-11 and Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We are suggesting that clause 17 be amended by deleting lines 4 and 5 on page 7. This would be amended to state that CASDO is an organization independent or at arm’s length from the government.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Hardcastle, your amendment NDP-3.1 is identical. Whatever happens with this one will also be with yours.

Is there any further discussion on CPC-11?

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Next is CPC-13.

Is there any discussion on CPC-13?

Go ahead, Ms. Falk.

(2150)

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I move:

That Bill C-81, in Clause 17, be amended by adding after line 8 on page 7 the following:
“(4) The head office must be without barriers.”

It’s not mentioned at all in the bill that the CASDO head office should be accessible. We think it should be a building that has no barriers and is accessible to the people who would be using it.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on CPC-13?

Go ahead, Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

It’s actually already being addressed by ESDC policy. It’s not really for legislation.

That’s our comment.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Could you repeat that, Mr. Ruimy?

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

It’s already being addressed in ESDC policy. The head office must be barrier-free, and we don’t believe it should be in the legislation, because it’s already being addressed through a different policy.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion?

Go ahead, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Do you have the policy that you’re referring to? It will just really suck if it’s one of those things that gets overlooked and then it’s not even made accessible to the people on the CASDO board, hopefully two-thirds of which will be people with disabilities, right? That’s what we heard from stakeholders, so….

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Perhaps we can get a response from our trusty folks on the other end.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Could you comment, Mr. Van Raalte?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

We can get that policy for the committee. We’ll get it very quickly for you.

The Government of Canada, from an accommodations perspective, is bound by the building codes. We are, to the extent possible for the standards that are available, accessible.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Go ahead, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Just to clarify, the CASDO building will just meet the current standards.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

That would be the minimum. The objective would be to exceed current standards where possible.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I just want to point something out.

Whatever the percentage of the board is made up of, whatever accessibility or disabilities are there, it’s hard to say what’s going to be needed for that. Whatever those minimum standards are, they are already there. If you have somebody who is part of the board and for whatever reason the criteria are not met, they have to meet those criteria, or else that person’s not getting into the building.

Part of the challenge is that there are so many different types of disabilities, and you have to allow for an ongoing evolution. This is why we keep coming back to timelines. It’s an evolution. We’re finding out more and more the different types of disabilities that are out there.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Ms. Falk is next.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Interrupt me if I’m wrong—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

No, please don’t interrupt.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I’m sorry.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I’m trying to keep things—

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Correct me if I’m not hearing this right. What I’m hearing is that we have policy in place for this already.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

We have building code policy in place for Government of Canada institutions.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Okay.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

To clarify, right now that building code is based on the National Building Code, which is province by province.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Okay.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

In our setting in the national capital region, you can have buildings that reflect Quebec building codes and you can have buildings that reflect the Ontario Building Code. You can also have an older building that was built to the building code standard of the time, and until there’s a large renovation of that building, it isn’t captured.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

If the codes are good now the way they are, what are we doing with this legislation? I’m just a little bit confused. This is an opportunity for us to make sure this building is barrier free for people with disabilities, and if we’re just relying on the code that’s there now…. I’m just trying to understand what we’re doing.

(2155)

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

If I could give an example beyond the building code, which is the standard or example everybody relates to, my own office space within the accessibility secretariat goes beyond and has been assessed beyond building code issues. We have sound dampeners in the ceiling for people with cognitive disabilities. We have put in special rooms for people who have sensory impairments so that they can work in quiet. We have carpeting and contrasting wall colours for people with visual impairments. We have, from a leadership perspective, gone above and beyond the minimum standards. Those are built environment issues.

You may recall, Mr. Chair, that in my testimony a number of weeks ago, I also talked about issues that go beyond the building code, such as wayfinding and policies around allergies such as perfume and food allergies.

There’s a lot that goes into consideration when we are designing and working with spaces. Our colleagues in Public Service and Procurement Canada are helping the Government of Canada itself, from a leadership design perspective, to make sure those workplaces are in conformity with the building codes.

The important part from a go-forward perspective is that CASDO itself will be a regulated entity. Not only will it be recommending standards to the minister, but it will also be subject to those regulations going forward as the regulations evolve and improve.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

In the department’s opinion, does it do any harm to have it in the legislation that the head office must be without barriers?

I’m having a hard time grasping this, because I feel that’s very progressive. It’s making a statement. It’s actually even saying something to people within the disability community—that this is an expectation.

Is there a hindrance? Does the department feel or believe that having this in the legislation is a hindrance?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Van Raalte can respond.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Again, Mr. Chair, we will loyally implement.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Go ahead, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

I’m really struggling. I don’t understand how the department that writes a bill doesn’t have an opinion, and in this case I don’t believe it would be an opinion involving cabinet confidence, because it’s an amendment that’s coming up on the floor of committee. It’s really hard to understand how the department that is going to be affected doesn’t have an opinion or doesn’t have anything to bring to the table on a certain subject.

In terms of this exact motion, I think one of the things I’m struggling with, after hearing the initial answer that James provided, is essentially that there are older buildings that basically comply with the building code without a significant renovation because it’s not a retroactive code and it’s on a go-forward basis. Does that mean that in dealing with an existing building, perhaps a historic building, it’s not mandatory to update to the standards of today, let alone to achieve what we’re telling the country we want and actually pushing the private sector across the country to implement?

It seems pretty basic to say that we’re creating a new organization and that this organization is going to enforce standards, and that the head office of that organization should live by those same standards. I think that’s just a case of practice what you preach.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Nuttall. I don’t know if that was a question.

Mr. Hogg is next.

(2200)

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg (South Surrey—White Rock, Lib.):

As I understand it, the principle is the same whether it’s in policy or legislation. I don’t want you you to interpret, but with respect to policy, what flexibility does that give us? I think we want to achieve the same thing. The principle, I think, is the same, as you’re trying to express it or as you are expressing it, in terms of being able to ensure that we accommodate anybody who’s going to be going into that building. I think that’s a principle you’re espousing.

Am I correct?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

That is correct, Mr. Chair.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Does having it in policy provide any more flexibility? Can the principle that is contained in it be achieved more rapidly through a policy perspective or through a legislative perspective?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

In practice, Mr. Chair, policies can always be updated much more quickly and have far more flexibility than in a legislative or even a regulatory perspective.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

You’re saying that if changes are occurring in terms of more effective responses to the needs of people with disabilities, a policy would allow you to adapt to those going forward, whereas legislation would require a change in legislation. Is that correct?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

That is correct, Mr. Chair.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Go ahead, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I just want to reply, through you, to my colleague across the way.

This particular line doesn’t have timelines. It doesn’t have anything that really is controversial at all. It’s just stating that the head office would be without barriers, so I really don’t understand what the push-back is to making the statement in the legislation that this is what it’s going to be. Then it’s in the legislation.

I could never see this in the foreseeable future needing to be amended, especially if the CASDO board has a minimum of 50% plus one members on it who have some type of disability. I’m really struggling to understand why this is such a complicated issue. We don’t have timelines, which we know aren’t happening. It’s literally just making a statement that the head office must be without barriers, and it literally sets a standard, because what happens if we do have an older building and it doesn’t need to be retrofitted, depending on building codes or whatever the case may be?

I’m just trying to understand.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Ms. Falk.

Go ahead, Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

This is my two cents, and then I’m done with this one.

First of all, how do you even define what is barrier free? You want to put “barrier free” in legislation, but we don’t know what that means, because that definition is always changing, right?

The proper place for that to be is in the regulations. If somebody has, as James mentioned, an allergy to perfume, or a problem with wireless, and they have the electromagnetic piece, these things haven’t even come to the table yet.

If you’re putting in a statement that head office must be barrier free, what does that mean?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

That can be decided in the regulations.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

That’s why it’s in regulations.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Okay.

Go ahead, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

To be fair, Dan, you started this off by saying that this was already covered in ESDC, which basically was interpreted as building code—

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Yes—

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

—and now you’re saying, “Oh, it can actually be covered in regulation changes.” Before; it wasn’t needed; now, in the same conversation, you’re saying it can be put into regulation and let’s deal with it there.

At the start of this conversation, there was actually nothing to be dealt with.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I said at the start of the conversation that it shouldn’t be in legislation. That’s what I said.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Right, and it’s already covered—

[Expand]

Mr. John Barlow:

Sorry, guys; speak one at a time.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Sorry.

You said it’s already covered by…I can’t remember—

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

ESDC policy.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

It was ESDC. Thank you.

I think the intent that the mover is trying to push here is that the space should constantly be at least at the standards of the day. Further, it scares me that the standards of today would not be retroactive to a historic building or an older building.

You’re basically saying that we’re going to leave it to the organization to go out and find the space and make sure it’s all done, but without delineating the goals in the legislation and then the actual details in the regulation.

The legislation outlines the broader picture, as you’re saying, and then the regulation you’re saying outlines the details, so it’s “Here’s the broader picture, and then come back with the details.”

(2205)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I have nothing left to say.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on CPC-13?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Chair, can we have a recorded vote?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ll have a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): The amendment is denied.

We’ll be hopeful that the CASDO building doesn’t just meet standards but is the trendsetter of those standards when it comes to accessibility.

All amendments to clause 17 were denied, so I will call the vote on clause 17 as is.

(Clause 17 agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Okay, we’re cooking with butter.

An hon. member: Is that good?

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): It’s very good for you. We have to support our dairy farmers.

(On clause 18)

On clause 18, if LIB-10 is adopted—just so we’re clear on this—then Green Party 4, CPC-14, and NDP-4 cannot be moved due to conflict. I want to make sure that’s clear before we move to LIB-10.

Are there any comments on LIB-10?

Mr. Morrissey, it’s your amendment.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Mr. Chair, this is a consequential change being made that reflects the changes made in LIB-4 and LIB-9, removing the word “progressive”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on LIB-10?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

If this passes, this will cancel out the next three consecutive—?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Since there’s a difference, are we able to debate?

There’s obviously no timeline in their amendment, and we have timelines here. Is that able to be—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

If it is adopted, I would suggest that you have that discussion to try to amend LIB-10 now, because I am guessing that LIB-10 will pass. I would suggest you try to amend LIB-10 with some of the concerns you may have.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I would like to suggest making an amendment.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Go ahead, Ms. May.

[Expand]

Ms. Elizabeth May:

The committee’s motion puts you in a rather difficult position. I haven’t raised it earlier tonight because I know you had to go very quickly, but the motion that compels me to be here also guarantees me an opportunity to speak to each of my amendments, which are deemed to have been tabled, whether or not they conflict with another member’s amendments.

If we’re on this point that Rosemarie has raised, I have a right to speak to my motion under the terms of that motion. I haven’t asserted it before tonight, because it’s a long night.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Ms. May.

Yes, Ms. Falk?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

If I suggest an amendment, it needs unanimous consent, right?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

No, because we are on this amendment and you are not the mover.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

You just move an amendment to the amendment.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

You can try to amend LIB-10.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I suggest amending an amendment.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

It is a subamendment.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

The subamendment would be “tribute to the realization of a Canada within 10 years after the day on which this section comes into force of a Canada without”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Does everybody understand the subamendment?

Is there any further discussion on the subamendment?

Go ahead, Mr. Diotte.

(2210)

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

I would like to make that amendment so that Bill C-81 in clause 18 be amended by—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Diotte, we can only have one amendment at a time. There are some amendments on the table.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Okay.

Yes, it was the wrong amendment that she—

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

How about we go to Ms. Falk?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Can I withdraw it?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ll withdraw that subamendment.

Give that another go, on what you’re trying to achieve here.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Can I just take a minute? Is that okay?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes. I know it’s late.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I think I’m ready. The subamendment would read “tribute to the realization, over a 10-year period, of a Canada without”.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Does everybody understand the subamendment?

We’ll call the subamendment to a vote.

Did you ask for a recorded vote?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Yes.

(Subamendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on LIB-10?

Seeing none, we’ll call the vote on LIB-10.

(Amendment agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We now move to LIB-11.

[Expand]

Ms. Elizabeth May:

Excuse me, Mr. Chair; I’ve not been allowed to speak to amendment PV-4.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

My understanding is that it’s been deemed moved, and because it was part of the previous one and the way it has been changed, you…. No.

[Expand]

Ms. Elizabeth May:

That is a violation of the terms of the motion that compels me to be here. I have very limited rights in these circumstances, but if you review the motion you passed, I believe you’ll find that I have a right to speak to each amendment. Whether they conflict with others or not, they are deemed moved, and the only right I have is to be able to speak to them.

Now, if you want to take that position, I’m not in a position to challenge the chair, but you all passed this motion. I objected to it at the time. It’s onerous and unfair and it’s coercive, but the one thing I have is a right to speak to each of my amendments in clause-by-clause study.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Ms. May. I appreciate that, and I will keep that in mind as we move forward. I know you have a few more. I will make sure that we give you the floor at the beginning when we start the discussion. Okay?

[Expand]

Ms. Elizabeth May:

Okay.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Amendment LIB-11 is Mr. Long’s. Is there any discussion?

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

It’s a very minor grammar change. I’ll read it out:

That Bill C-81, in Clause 18, be amended by replacing, in the English version, line 11 on page 7 with the following:
“barriers through, among other things,”

That is as opposed to “barriers by”. We want to change that to “through”.

(2215)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Is there any further discussion on amendment LIB-11?

(Amendment agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We’re on amendment CPC-15. Is there any discussion?

Go ahead, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

It reads:

That Bill C-81, in Clause 18, be amended
(a) by replacing line 12 on page 7 with the following:
“(a) the development and revision of all accessibility stan-”
(b) by adding after line 25 on page 7 the following:
“(2) When developing accessibility standards in the areas of information and communication technologies or transportation, the Standards Organization must consult the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission or the Canadian Transportation Agency, as the case may be.”

The reasoning for this amendment is that the bill gives powers to more than one body to create accessibility requirements in many areas. The CTA and the CRTC have powers to enact accessibility standards in certain areas and the CASDO has powers to create proposed accessibility standards, which the federal government may enact into law. This creates a legally complex scheme. It may be difficult for the public to identify which accessibility requirements apply to which organizations. It risks creating inconsistent accessibility requirements.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Ms. Falk.

Go ahead, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

I think this is actually what Mr. Long’s amendment was about earlier. It is that you have multiple regimes, multiple organizations overseeing a single idea of accessibility within a sector or a space and needing the ability to determine which one actually matters. I think the intent of the amendment that we passed earlier was that the greater of the two would be the one adopted.

Further to that, it would make sense that we conduct or force a conducted consultation throughout that process, because it is likely going to be very complex, but ignorance shouldn’t be an excuse at any point throughout this process. If there are multiple oversight mechanisms, then you do want the consultation taking place with those organizations that are going to be affected.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Nuttall.

Is there any further discussion on CPC-15?

Seeing none, I’ll call the vote.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I’d like a recorded vote, please.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We’ll have a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We now move on to CPC-16.

Is there any discussion on CPC-16?

Go ahead, Mrs. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

It reads:

That Bill C-81, in Clause 8, be amended by adding after line 25 on page 7 the following:
“(2) The Standards Organization must, within six months after the day on which this Act comes into force, develop and implement an education and information program for the dissemination of information to the public under paragraph (1)(e).”

I know we have heard testimony from many different witnesses about having some type of public education rolled out. I know that Mr. Christopher Sutton of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association mentioned it. We also had Ryerson University mention it. There were a few. I think it’s important that the opportunity for public education be rolled out to inform Canadians.

(2220)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mrs. Falk.

Is there any further discussion on CPC-16?

Go ahead, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Mr. Van Raalte, in terms of your implementation of this bill, what is your expected timeline for starting the education surrounding the legislation changes?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Thanks for the question, Mr. Chair.

The expectation is that the new organization would open its doors this summer. It’ll take about a year to stand up the organization in terms of infrastructure, getting staffed up and getting everything in place. It will be fully operational a year from this summer.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Then education would start when?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

The powers under the mandate of CASDO are stated in paragraphs 18(a) through 18(e). Once the bill becomes law, they will come into force. The infrastructure required—the hiring and getting the office all set up and so on—would be a year from this summer.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Then summer 2020 is when you would begin…?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

That’s when we would begin technical committees for standard development, information, sharing of best practices, innovation work on standards of the future.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

Ms. Falk, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I just want to follow up.

On October 22, in committee, Ms. Barbara Collier, the executive director of Communication Disabilities Access Canada said:

I just want to say that I was stressing the scope of the issue of communication access, but I think it’s very doable. Ninety per cent of what I am talking about is education, and I think we have the education resources that could be put in place. What we need is a standard stating that everyone needs training about how to communicate with people who communicate in different ways. It’s very doable.

I just want to emphasize that we heard from our stakeholders and our witnesses that public education is so important. I’m a little concerned, from what I’m interpreting and hearing from the department, that this public education might not happen for a year or so—a year and a half to two years. I think it’s important that we have some timelines in there, because two years from now is quite a while.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Ms. Falk.

Are there any more comments on CPC-16?

Seeing none—

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I would like a recorded vote.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

I will call a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):: We now move to PV-5.

Go ahead, Ms. May.

[Expand]

Ms. Elizabeth May:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

What this does to clause 18 is add a subclause. The amendment, PV-5, would ensure that there is some degree of a timeline attached to carrying out the mandate and reviewing an accessibility standard. The mandate of the Canadian accessibility standards development organization under paragraph 1(a) is the development and revision of accessibility standards. This amendment would have that accessibility standard reviewed within five years after the date it was implemented or on an earlier date if the minister so specified.

This is to ensure that as the accessibility standards are rolled out, they’re reviewed in a timely fashion to see how they’re working and if they’re meeting the needs of the of those for whom they are designed.

(2225)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Ms. May.

I need to be clear as well on PV-5. If it is adopted, CPC-17 and NDP-4.1 will not be moved due to consistency.

Is there any issue or any discussion on PV-5?

Go ahead, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I think I would very much like this amendment to be adopted. If we’re not going to put actual timelines in place to achieve something, then at least putting timelines in place to review accessibility makes sense. If we’re not going to put in timelines to achieve, hopefully we can have timelines to review, and maybe we can put timelines to achieve at that point.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Mr. Nuttall.

Go ahead, Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I think this is a very important amendment if we are going to embrace the concept of a barrier-free Canada being something that evolves. We need to be responsive and we need a mechanism in place to ensure that we are responsive as we’re evolving, adjusting to best practices and learning and improving constantly, because there is no real end point to all of this. That point has been made on all sides of the committee table here tonight, and it is extremely important for us to respond to it.

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Ms. Hardcastle.

Is there any further discussion on PV-5?

Go ahead, Mr. Hogg.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

I’ll ask the experts. In terms of looking at policies, the implementation of policies and the issue of timelines, which has been pretty controversial as we’ve gone through this, what is the current practice with any legislation you receive in terms of the implementation processes that you follow?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

I’m not sure I understand the question, Mr. Chair.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

The question is this: if there’s a piece of legislation that comes out that doesn’t have a hard timeline in it, how does the ministry respond to it? How do you carry out the principle? I think we all want to see this, as a principle, achieved as quickly as possible. If you don’t have a timeline, how do you manage that?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

I’m still not sure I understand the question, Mr. Chair, as it pertains to the proposed amendment. As it pertains to the proposed amendment, the Standards Council of Canada already has this requirement. Under the accreditation process, standards have to be reviewed every five years. That is a requirement. It’s already built in. By creating a new standards organization that will fall under the rules of the Standards Council of Canada, this review will already be occurring. I don’t want to overuse the word “standard”, but it is a standard practice. It is a requirement for the updating of standards.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Go ahead, Mr. Hogg.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

You’re saying that putting something in this would be redundant because you’re already bound to that with the standards that you have to comply with now.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Yes. Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Are there any further comments?

[Expand]

Ms. Elizabeth May:

This is to officials and Mr. Van Raalte.

What legal status does the Standards Council of Canada have? We’re talking in a legislative frame. You mentioned earlier that the human rights code, of course, has quasi-constitutional status. There’s no statutory status to the council’s standards.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

It’s an accreditation standard.

[Expand]

Ms. Elizabeth May:

Then it’s voluntary and outside the laws of Parliament and could be violated without any recourse for parliamentarians to pursue.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

I believe that is correct, Mr. Chair.

[Expand]

Ms. Elizabeth May:

Thank you, Mr. Van Raalte.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Ms. May.

Is there any further discussion on PV-5?

(2230)

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We’d like a recorded vote.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We now move to CPC-17. Is there any discussion?

Ms. Falk, would you like to present the amendment?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

It reads:

That Bill C-81, in Clause 18, be amended by adding after line 25 on page 7 the following:
“(2) The Standards Organization must develop accessibility standards for every area referred to in paragraphs 5(a) to (g) no later than five years after the day on which this subsection comes into force.
(3) The Standards Organization must develop an action plan ranking in priority every area for which accessibility standards are required and provide the action plan to the Minister.
(4) The Standards Organization must update the action plan annually and provide the updated version to the Minister.
(5) The Standards Organization must review each accessibility standard every five years from the date on which it was established.”

Obviously we’ve been talking about timelines in this bill. We believe that it should include timelines by which CASDO must develop accessibility standards in employment, the built environment, information and communication technologies, the procurement of goods and services, the delivery of programs and services, and transportation five years after coming into force.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Ms. Falk.

Is there any discussion on CPC-17?

I should also mention, Ms. Hardcastle, that if this is adopted, NDP-4.1 will not be moved, for consistency. I believe they are very similar.

Go ahead, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Thank you.

Mr. Chair, through you to Mr. Van Raalte, are these requests in terms of standards likely to be achieved in any ways within the purview of what you’re hoping to achieve when you’re implementing the act?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

These are all within the purview of the proposed board of directors that would govern the standards development organization.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Nuttall.

Are there any further comments?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

We’d like a recorded vote, please.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, it’s a recorded vote. Thank you very much for your request.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We will now move to CPC-18.

Is there any discussion?

Go ahead, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

The amendment reads:

That Bill C-81, in Clause 18, be amended by adding after line 25 on page 7 the following:
“(2) In carrying out its mandate, the Standards Organization must exercise leadership at the national level by ensuring that any information, product or service it provides is without barriers and that any document it creates is in an accessible format and in plain language.
(3) The Standards Organization must not refuse any document that is in an accessible format or in plain language.”

Basically, as justification for this, I think this would just reiterate that CASDO must show leadership in terms of accessibility. Again, plain language and the ability of people with intellectual disabilities to access and understand should be part of the CASDO mandate.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Go ahead, Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Once again, we really believe that this should not be in legislation but is an area of policy, because it’s ever-changing. Documents are changing and the types of readers are changing all the time.

If you lock things into legislation, it’s a massive procedure to change it. We believe it belongs in policy.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Ruimy.

Go ahead, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I don’t believe that this is actually giving definite ways that literature could be accessible. I think it’s actually just stating that it will be accessible, however that may be, in plain language. We had heard from stakeholders that this was important because people with intellectual disabilities aren’t able to access the majority of information. I think having this in there is just setting a starting point.

This isn’t everything, right? This is literally just the starting point. The regulation can come in and be a little bit more definitive.

(2235)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Yes, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

I think it also applies to the regulations too, in the sense that when the regulations are put in place, they should be in easily understood language as well. It’s actually the point that maybe I didn’t do a great job of making earlier about the differing standards in different organizations. If I didn’t understand it and maybe everyone in this room didn’t understand it, then it’s not necessarily in plain language, which is one of the things we’re actually trying to tackle through this bill. It’s very ironic.

Putting this into the legislation would, therefore, define it going into the wording of the actual regulations.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Nuttall.

Go ahead, Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Again, just to respond to that, time and time again we heard that of all the pillars, the one that was missing was communications. That will be one of our amendments. We will be introducing a communication pillar, because we kept hearing that the pillar of communication was so critical. We will be introducing that through this long complicated process.

We have PDF documents that can’t be read through machine learning. The technology is always changing. That’s why, again, it’s a policy thing, not a legislation thing.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

I hear you and I totally hear you, but this doesn’t actually say anything about specific documents. It’s actually setting a clear policy, which is what this act is doing. It’s setting up a policy that the standards must reach a certain level—

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

You’re saying a policy.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

—just to even begin the writing of the actual standards.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Nuttall.

Go ahead, Mr. Sangha.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

Can I ask one question to James?

Does this timeline thing fall under the paragraph 117(1)(b), where the regulations will be framed?

We are just dealing with the act here and the regulations will be framed later on. All of these questions that are now coming with these motions are to be considered under the regulations.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The issues around accessible format and plain language would be addressed through standards development and then regulation. I would also point out again that from an operating policy perspective, the organization itself, CASDO, can get out ahead of that and set those requirements within their own bylaws, as set out in the legislation.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

Bylaws and regulations will be framed later on, when this act is already enacted.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

That is correct.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

My next comment to you, then, is that these motions that keep coming forward with all the timelines are redundant. They are not of any value because the regulations will be coming later on.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

On a point of order, Mr. Chair, I don’t believe this is related to the current amendment that’s on the floor, which doesn’t have a timeline in it.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Mr. Nuttall.

Mr. Sangha, we will be dealing with every amendment. If you’re trying to say that we shouldn’t be dealing with every amendment because in your opinion they’re redundant, that’s not going to happen. The amendments were submitted to the committee and the chair in a reasonable fashion. They will be addressed, every single one, as we go through the process. I hope that’s clear.

(2240)

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

Chair, I’m clear…but with all due respect, let me say it again. Regulations are made after the act is made. Regulations will be dealing with all these things that we are tackling here now.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That’s your opinion, Mr. Sangha. I appreciate that you’re free to make that your question.

Mr. Ramesh Sangha: Thank you.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Is there any further discussion on CPC-18?

Go ahead, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Mr. Van Raalte, maybe this seems redundant, but I’m not sure. As it stands today, would everything that’s done currently out of your department, and with the standards that would then be put in place regarding the construction of any of the regulations and standards going forward, all be done in plain language? Would they be all in an accessible format?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Thanks for the question, Mr. Chair.

I would have to say we make best efforts. We are still learning and evolving as we go in terms of the range of accessible formats that are available.

I can give an example. When we led the consultation process across the country that served to inform the development of the legislation, at each and every stop we learned from new barriers that we had not encountered before. We made best efforts. We adapted as quickly as we could. We incorporated those changes into the next stop so that we could bring down those barriers at the next consultation process.

It is an evolving learning process for us. We make accessible formats and plain language available to the best of our ability. We often get that wrong. The disability community will reach out to us and ask if something can be adjusted, and we make those changes.

I’m not sure I’m answering fully your question, Mr. Chair.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

I do appreciate the answer.

As you were saying this, it struck me why it is I’m struggling with this so much. It’s because sometimes when the Liberal members are talking about how that’s a regulation and this is the act, I’m starting to buy into some of the things that are being said.

It actually takes me back. If I think about acts in previous governments, the transparency act clearly delineated what the expectations were of members of the government.

I’ll give you an example. If you serve as a cabinet minister, you can’t lobby five years thereafter. That wasn’t something that came in two years down the road when they figured out what they wanted to do. They set a clear and concise set of standards within the act itself. To sit here and say we’re scared that we can’t actually meet everybody’s barrier-free

We’re saying we don’t want to set a standard on anything in case we miss somebody; the reality is that when you take that approach, you miss everybody.

I am struggling with this. I’ve listened. I’ve listened to what you’ve said. I’ve listened to what other members have said. I get it. I 100% get what you’re trying to say. It’s going to be constantly moving, so if we try to peg it down, we’re going to miss people, as it’s constantly moving. New technologies are coming forth. New ideas are coming out. Universities and colleges are doing new studies that are providing new information. I get it, 100%.

However, if we don’t put the peg in somewhere—in here, and I actually do believe it’s the right place—then we don’t set the tone for the standards. That’s a difficult thing to swallow when it comes to accessibility.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Nuttall.

Go ahead, Mr. Ruimy.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

With respect, that was the point of creating CASDO in the first place. Their job is to create the standards and to work through policy and the departments. That’s what they’re doing. It’s not being left up to Parliament to create standards. You have a whole new board and a whole new framework, and their mandate is to continue to look at increasing the standards and moving the bar forward.

That’s the whole point of CASDO. They’re an entity on their own. That’s why the board will be made up of members of that community. We’ve been living this for a while now.

(2245)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Sangha is next.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

Chair, we are sitting here to legislate. We are legislators. As legislators we don’t have to think of all of the nitty-gritty because we have to leave something for the regulations and the bylaws to play with.

Our intention is to prepare the bill in the best possible way to serve the purpose for which we are sitting here. It is not to go deep into the things that other people are required to do, but we are trying to do that now. In that way, we are not serving the purpose of the bill.

I think it would be better to legislate the main parts of this act, not to legislate the subamendments that are required and later on will require changes from time to time. Our intention is to prepare the best possible legislation so it is applicable in a nice way.

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Mr. Sangha.

I think all of us are here to do the best job we possibly can. I think we’ve heard tonight some discussions on what the framework looks like, what the baseline is, where we start. I think everybody put in about 80 amendments, so a lot of nitty-gritty things were brought by everyone. I think it’s important that we have that discussion. If we want to do this right, we’re going to go through them.

Is there any further discussion on CPC-18?

Go ahead, Mr. Nuttall.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Yes, Mr. Chair, I completely agree with what you just said. I think everyone wants the best piece of legislation possible. I don’t think anyone sitting around the table is saying they don’t want a good piece of legislation. We may disagree on what that looks like, but I think everyone wants the same thing.

I’m still struggling with plain language and accessible formatting. This is pretty basic.

There are two issues that somebody would have with this; number one, that it can’t be met; and number two, that it’s redundant. If it’s redundant, then it’s just as likely to be voted for as against. If it can’t be met, then that would be a sad day.

I’m struggling with…. We’re going to have many amendments coming forward to say we just want plain language. If we change the language to say that all communications going forward…that the organization be set up in plain language and in accessible format, does that do the deal? I’m trying to understand why it’s a no.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

You’re right that we all want to do what’s right, and different philosophies are on the table here.

On our side, this is why we’re creating CASDO. Their role is to create those standards, because they will always change. If we start putting things into legislation, the only time it gets changed is by Parliament having to make those changes, and that’s not a very nimble way to do it.

Part of CASDO is to make sure that disabled people are at the table, helping to make those decisions. That’s the whole point. If they’re at the table making those decisions, then those are the things that we should let…. That’s why we have CASDO. It’s because we want to put this together.

Again, we all agree on accessible documents, but the proper place for it is through policy, not through legislation, because it will always change.

(2250)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

Just as a tidbit, as something interesting, I just learned the other day that petitions can’t be submitted to the House of Commons on large paper with large print. It shows you how far we have to go.

I think what we’re trying to get is plain language and accessible format. I think those are important issues to talk about.

Go ahead, Mr. Sangha.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

This bill is giving certain powers to CASDO and other organizations. The bill is giving the powers, and those powers are to be used as and when they are required, so that’s the way we should be at this time. Yes, we are giving powers to someone, and what is the actual intention behind this? The minister has come here, and she has said everything about how she wants this act to go and what types of timelines she’s looking for. Let’s leave something further for the person to whom this act is giving the powers.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Mr. Sangha.

I would just say that this shouldn’t be about how the minister wants the legislation to go. That’s why this committee is here, and that’s why we hear testimony from witnesses. They have their feedback as well. That’s why this process is important.

I appreciate your input. Is there any further discussion on CPC-18?

Do we want a recorded vote?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

No.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

No? All right.

(Amendment negatived)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): We will go on to NDP-4.1.

Go ahead, Ms. Hardcastle.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.

Well, this is pretty self-explanatory. We’ve seen repetitively here tonight that good opportunities for substantive language have been defeated. I would plead with this committee to look at this once again. We have an opportunity to replace some of the superficial language with substantive language, and here’s an area where we can do that.

As a matter of fact, we have people here listening tonight who may be misled, even from the previous conversation, about CASDO. CASDO is only as strong as we allow it to be, and at this point, it is only going to be answerable to itself.

We have a great opportunity to begin looking at amendments coming forward as we turn the pages in the future, looking for ways that we can do something in a more substantive way. This is a repeat of a theme that we’ve already been seeing, but it’s something I think that we really have to look seriously at. That’s why the amendment is there.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you very much, Ms. Hardcastle.

The vote is on NDP-4.1.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Can I have a recorded vote, please?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

You may.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3)

(Clause 18 as amended agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Look at the clock. We’re going to go to 11 o’clock. If I can indulge my colleagues to get through clauses 19 and 20, which should be fairly quick, that should get us to 11 o’clock.

Is everybody okay with that?

(2255)

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Mr. Chair, I know you need unanimous consent for this, but we are very into ensuring that this bill gets through, so we would move to extend past 11 p.m. if possible. However, I think we need unanimous consent to do that.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

We do.

We have a motion on the floor to…we don’t need it?

[Expand]

The Clerk of the Committee (Ms. Stephanie Feldman):

We don’t. We just need a motion.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

It’s just a motion. All right.

We have a motion to continue till midnight. Is there any discussion?

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Yes, absolutely. Let’s go.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Okay.

All those in favour of continuing till midnight? Opposed?

(Motion agreed to)

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Can you fall asleep here, though?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Absolutely.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Can we have a motion to that effect?

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Yes.

Mr. Gordie Hogg: Does it have to be in policy or not?

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Should we have asked the staff?

Voices: Yes.

Mr. Dan Ruimy: They’re okay with staying?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

They’re in with us.

Okay, we’re moving on to CPC-19.

Is there any discussion on CPC-19?

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Yes, Mr. Chair.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Go ahead, Mr. Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

The motion reads:

That Bill C-81, in Clause 19, be amended by deleting lines 15 to 17 on page 8.

Basically it’s removing power for the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization to charge fees.

I think charging fees is wrong. It’s the wrong way to try to generate revenue. Any accessibility standard that CASDO develops should always be made available to the public for free. I don’t think charging a fee is in anybody’s best interest. This fee will actually be a barrier for people with disabilities who want to get a copy and spread the word to other people with disabilities.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Just before I get to Mr. Ruimy, I have a couple of quick housekeeping notes for our audience and viewers. The sign language interpreters will not be able to stay until midnight. Just so those of you who are in the audience are aware, the sign language option will cease before midnight.

[Expand]

The Clerk:

We’ll do it after the meeting in post-production.

[Expand]

Mr. Alexander Nuttall:

Mr. Chair, I think then that we should vote not to extend, to undo our vote.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

That’s a good point. In fairness, we didn’t know that at the time. I would entertain a motion to end at 11 p.m. or when we’re done with clauses 19 and 20.

Is that okay with everybody?

Some hon. members: Agreed.

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Okay. Thank you for bringing that to our attention.

Also, I just wanted to mention to Ms. Hardcastle that if CPC-19 is carried…yours is identical, so you may want to speak to this one now. If this is approved, yours will not be brought to the table. They’re identical.

Does it make sense?

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

If it’s approved, I’m going to miss out on my opportunity to speak on it. Is that what you’re saying?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

You can speak on it now, because they’re identical. That is what I’m saying.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Okay, thanks.

It seems to be counterintuitive to the spirit, intent and purpose of this historical legislation to charge a fee for any accessibility standard that it develops or revises and for any information, product or service that it provides under this act.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Ms. Hardcastle.

Is there any further discussion on CPC-19?

Go ahead, Mr. Ruimy. Sorry.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

That’s okay. The other chair likes to ignore me too.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

So do your friends.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Yes, so do my friends.

An hon. member: Not me, Dan.

Mr. Dan Ruimy: I’d like to ask the good folks on the other end to actually go into why CASDO would be charging a fee. Could you explain that a little bit more for us, please?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Thank you for the question, Mr. Chair.

This provision would allow CASDO to charge fees for its efforts. There will be limited resources in terms of standards development. Another organization, whether it be a province, territory or municipality or whether it be from the private sector, could ask CASDO to take on extra standards development work, and they would be able to charge back to that organization for that work.

(2300)

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

This is specifically to organizations that will come to CASDO and say, “Hey, can you develop this policy for us?” or ”Can you develop a standard for us?” In essence, it’s contracting out its services.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

It would be above and beyond its regular workload.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Okay. It’s above and beyond its regular workload. Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Go ahead, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Thank you, Mr. Chair. If there’s a way to make that distinction in the legislation….

We heard from many of the witnesses that many people who have disabilities live in poverty or have very limited income. If there is somebody who has disability who wants to access this, this would be a barrier preventing them from accessing it, because who’s to say they have extra money lying around to pay for paper?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

We’ll go to Mr. Hogg first.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

As I heard the explanation, nobody with a disability would be approaching this; these are done through organizations. Is that correct, Mr. Van Raalte?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

I’m just going to take a moment to consult, if I may, Mr. Chair.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

I’m sorry.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

I apologize for the delay, Mr. Chair. I just needed to confirm, and I would direct the committee’s attention to “Other powers”, clause 20. It says this work can be done for:

any person or entity, including any government in Canada or elsewhere.

The point I would make is that once the standard is adopted into regulation, then it is a free good and it’s made public to anybody who may need or want to use it.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you.

Mr. Ruimy, are you happy with that answer?

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I’m kind of happy with that answer. Are you?

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Go ahead, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Does that include non-profits having access?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

To the regulation? It would.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Would there ever be an instance of a non-profit needing to request something and having to pay?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

If any organization wishes the standards development organization to undertake work above and beyond its regular business, this provides the flexibility for the standards organization to charge for that. It’s flexibility. It’s a “may”.

The board of directors could set policies about who it would charge for what.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Are you okay?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I’m collecting my thoughts, so go ahead.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Mr. Ruimy, go ahead.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Just to clarify, because I think this is where you might be going, CASDO will create the standards, but it’s not incumbent upon them to print and give out the material to people—or is it? Will I be able to call CASDO and say, “I’m this organization. Give me 500 copies of the standards act”, for example?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Ideally, Mr. Chair, the standard would be published. It would be online, so people would be able to access it.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I don’t understand. I don’t care what the organization is; if they’re trying to remove barriers or be an active part of a barrier-free Canada, why would we put a fee in their place to do that? We just heard that we’re legislating and we’re leaving regulations up to CASDO. They’re not going to be independent and they’re going to be answerable to the government, and now they’re going to charge a fee? It’s counterintuitive to every other argument you’ve made earlier tonight.

(2305)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thanks, Ms. Hardcastle.

Go ahead, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

CASDO is technically going to be a specialty board where people with lived disabilities, who’ve experienced it, are going to be writing regulations and standards and that type of thing.

If there’s a non-profit in a small town somewhere in northern Saskatchewan, for example, and they want to reach out to this…. We did hear that 40% of indigenous people have a disability. If we have a non-profit that is there, helping, trying to do good with limited resources, they technically, theoretically, would not be able to tap in to have CASDO make something for them, because there will be a fee associated with it.

Is there going to be any give with that? It just seems that this is another barrier, except it’s a monetary barrier, not just a physical one. It’s counterintuitive to this bill.

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Again, Mr. Chair, it’s permissive. CASDO will set its priorities in consultation with the minister. It will follow out those priorities.

The challenge will be that it can’t be working on everything for everybody at the same time.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Van Raalte.

Mr. Ruimy is next.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Could you maybe give us an example of who would pay for something? Just give me an example. If I am an organization and I go online and you have the resources, I can download those resources for free. What would be a situation in which you would charge me to do something? What would be an example?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

Off the top of my head, Mr. Chair, an area of technology that is very important to everybody is point-of-sale machines. We access those in businesses, we use them in banks. You use your debit card or your credit card.

Many different governments and jurisdictions have a role to play in the regulation of point-of-sale machines. You may have leadership from Canadian banks that says, “We want to get out from under all the red tape of the different regulators and we want CASDO to give priority to us so that we can offer our citizens and our clients accessible point-of-sale machines. We don’t want to wait for the next round of standards, because you’re developing standard one and standard two. We want CASDO to develop the standards on those point-of-sale machines.”

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Ruimy.

Go ahead, Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

It just sounds as though there are a lot of things left to the assumption that they are going to be done, and we all know the saying with assumption, right? It’s really going to suck if 10 years down the road the stuff that’s being debated here today and tomorrow doesn’t get done or is overlooked.

I would really just plead with this committee that we don’t leave it all up to discretion and presumption, because we heard from the disability community about how they have been waiting and waiting. They have never had a voice at the table and they finally do, and it’s going to be a real shame if we leave everything on presumption.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

We heard from the financial service community actually, and not to put you on the spot, Mr. Van Raalte, but they have the impetus to develop their services and not wait for CASDO. They told us that they are trail-blazing and they are innovating.

I don’t see how allowing an opportunity for a fee is not going to translate to another barrier or another insurmountable object that an organization or a community advocating for the rights of people living with disabilities is going to have to overcome, when there are already so many other things they have to overcome.

It’s evident with this legislation they’ve been waiting for that there are no teeth and no enforcement. We just heard that it’s going to be up to a discussion or rapport with a minister, not even the transparency and the accountability that we anticipated.

(2310)

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thanks, Ms. Hardcastle.

Go ahead, Mr. Hogg.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

More than 50% of the CASDO board is made up of with disabilities, so they’re the face and the voice of making some of these decisions. If we’re looking at the continuum, when a person with disabilities is applying for something, I think it’s pretty clear that those people would not have to be charged. At the other end of it, if it’s Canadian Tire or some big international corporation asking for a whole bunch of things, there is that level of discretion.

I think there is a long continuum there. Some judgments have to be made with respect to that. I think in those instances, the principle of those people in need…. Am I interpreting this correctly in terms of the range?

[Expand]

Mr. James Van Raalte:

I believe you are, Mr. Chair.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

Thank you, Mr. Hogg.

Is there any further discussion on CPC-19?

Seeing none, I will call the vote.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I would like a recorded vote, please.

(Amendment negatived: nays 5; yeas 3 [See Minutes of Proceedings])

[Expand]

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow):

There are no amendments to clause 19. We’ll vote on it as it is.

(Clause 19 agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): Can I ask that we do clause 20 very quickly, as there are no amendments tabled?

(Clause 20 agreed to)

The Vice-Chair (Mr. John Barlow): It is now a quarter after 11. We will now end the meeting this evening and reconvene tomorrow at 8 a.m.

The meeting is adjourned.



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Transcript of the October 25, 2018 meeting of the House Of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities – Day 8 of Public Hearings on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act, Including the Presentation by the AODA Alliance


Transcript of the October 25, 2018 meeting of the House Of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities – Day 8 of Public Hearings on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act, Including the Presentation by the AODA Alliance

Notice of meeting Amended

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA)

42nd Parliament, 1st Session

Meeting 119

Thursday, October 25, 2018, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

Room 415, Wellington Building, 197 Sparks Street

Televised

Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada

Witnesses

8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Amended

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

  • David Lepofsky, Chair
  • Faith Cameletti, Student, Osgoode Hall Law School
  • Connor Campbell, Student, Osgoode Hall Law School

Canadian Hard of Hearing Association

  • Christopher Sutton, National Executive Director

CNIB Foundation

  • Angela Bonfanti, Vice-President, Ontario and Quebec
  • Robbi Weldon, Program Lead, Peer Support and Leisure

9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. Amended

Canadian Association of the Deaf

  • Frank Folino, President
  • James Roots, Executive Director

Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission

  • David Arnot, Chief Commissioner (by videoconference: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)

Clerk of the Committee

Stephanie Feldman (613-996-1542)

2018-10-24 4:33 p.m.

Minutes of Proceedings

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA)

42nd Parliament, 1st Session

Meeting 119

Thursday, October 25, 2018, 7:59 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

Room 415, Wellington Building, 197 Sparks Street

Televised

Presiding

Bryan May, Chair (Liberal)

Expand AllCollapse All

Members of the Committee present

Liberal

Conservative

Acting Members present

In attendance

Library of Parliament

  • Havi Echenberg, Analyst
  • Mayra Perez-Leclerc, Analyst

Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada

Witnesses

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance

  • David Lepofsky, Chair
  • Faith Cameletti, Student, Osgoode Hall Law School
  • Connor Campbell, Student, Osgoode Hall Law School

Canadian Hard of Hearing Association

  • Christopher Sutton, National Executive Director

CNIB Foundation

  • Angela Bonfanti, Vice-President, Ontario and Quebec
  • Robbi Weldon, Program Lead, Peer Support and Leisure

Canadian Association of the Deaf

  • Frank Folino, President
  • James Roots, Executive Director

Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission

  • David Arnot, Chief Commissioner

Pursuant to the Order of Reference of Wednesday, September 26, 2018, the Committee resumed consideration of Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.

Devid Lepofsky, Christopher Sutton, Angela Bonfanti and Robbi Weldon made statements and answered questions.

At 9:02 a.m., the sitting was suspended.

At 9:07 a.m., the sitting resumed.

Frank Folino and David Arnot, by videoconference from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan made statements and, with James Roots, answered questions.

At 10:00 a.m., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.

Stephanie Feldman

Clerk of the Committee

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities

EVIDENCE

Thursday, October 25, 2018

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

(0800)

[English]

[Expand]

The Chair (Mr. Bryan May (Cambridge, Lib.)):

I call the meeting to order.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to today’s meeting on Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.

The objective of today’s meeting is to continue the committee’s thorough review of this bill. I’d like to take a moment to remind both those participating in the proceedings, as well as those observing the proceedings of the committee in person and on video that the committee adopted a motion on September 18 that included instructions for the clerk to explore options to allow for the full participation of all witnesses and members of the public on this study.

As a result, the committee has made arrangements to make all meetings in relation to the study of Bill C-81 as accessible as possible in a variety of ways. This includes providing sign language interpretation and near real-time closed captioning in the room.

Please note that both American sign language and Quebec sign language are being offered to those in our audience. Screens displaying the near real-time closed captioning have also been set up. The sign language interpreters in the room are also being videorecorded for the eventual broadcast of the meeting on ParlVU via the committee’s website. We would ask that those in the room remain seated as much as possible during the meeting so that everyone in the audience can clearly see the sign language interpretation. If a member of the audience requires assistance at any time, please notify a member of the staff or the committee clerk.

I would just like to add that we have found throughout these meetings that at times witnesses and committee members alike will often speak at a pace that is a little too fast. I will be interrupting if the interpreters give me either a thumbs up or a thumbs down if we are going a bit fast, so I apologize in advance. Please take your time with your opening remarks and in the questions and answers.

I’d like to welcome this panel here today. First of all, from Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance, we are pleased to have Mr. David Lepofsky, chair. He is joined by Faith Cameletti, a student from Osgoode Hall Law School, and Connor Campbell, also a student from Osgoode Hall Law School. Welcome to all three of you.

From the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, we have Mr. Christopher Sutton, national executive director. Welcome, sir.

From the CNIB Foundation, we have Angela Bonfanti, vice-president, Ontario and Quebec, and Robbi Weldon, program lead, peer support and leisure. Thank you as well for being here today.

We’re going to get started this morning with Mr. Lepofsky. Go ahead, sir.

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky (Chair, Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance):

Good morning.

Our society has for too many years—indeed, decades—been designed on the ridiculous assumption that for the most part it’s there for people without disabilities. It’s not that people wanted us excluded, but we have just never been part of the thinking, much of the time, when our buildings are built, our public transit is created, our workplaces are designed, and the goods and services we use are designed and sold.

It’s a ridiculous idea, because more than five million of us now have a disability—but even that number underestimates us, because, you see, every one of us in this room, and every voter who voted for you or against you, either has a disability now or is bound to get one later in their life. We are the minority of everyone, and no politician or political party can go soft on the minority of everyone.

We commend the federal government for committing to bring forward Bill C-81, and for undertaking a good public consultation on it. However, the bill that is now before you is very strong on good intentions but very weak on implementation and enforcement. The groups that have come before you have provided a road map of how to fix it, and that can be done. When you come to vote on amendments before this committee and when you go back to your caucuses to decide what position you’re going to take, we urge you not simply to think of the immediate political expediency of today; we do urge you to think about the imminent election a year from now and the needs of the minority of everyone, for whom no party or politician can go soft.

We urge you to think about what you would say to you, 20 years from now. If you don’t already have a disability now but you get one later, what would you come back in time and say about your reluctance to support strong amendments? We urge you to come together and unanimously support strong amendments.

You’ve heard many groups focusing on very common themes. Our top priorities are in a brief that is being circulated to you in Braille and in a brief that spells much more out in detail. Let me use my time to focus on two, which other groups have supported, but they have not been discussed as much at this committee.

First, Bill C-81 wrongly splinters the creation of accessibility standards and their enforcement among multiple federal agencies. This is a formula for a weak bill. Please unsplinter it. This bill provides that accessibility standards can be enacted—and that’s good—but it divides the power to make them among the federal cabinet, which should have all that power; the Canadian Transportation Agency for transportation providers; and the CRTC for broadcasters and telecom companies.

That is a formula for confusion, contradiction, delay and weak standards. All standards should be made by one body alone, and that is the politically accountable federal cabinet. Giving the power over public transit to the Canadian Transportation Agency will have the effect of weakening the measures you take on transportation. That agency, like the CRTC, has no demonstrated expertise on accessibility for people with disabilities. Moreover, both the CTA and the CRTC have substantially inadequate track records in the use of the power on accessibility that they’ve had for years.

If you go to folks who have a bad track record, you have a predictable future of more bad track records. Let me give you one example that says it all.

(0805)

The Canadian Transportation Agency has had the power to make accessibility standards for people with disabilities in federally regulated transportation providers for over three decades. They’re so excited and so eager to use that power that they’ve made absolutely none. Giving them that power now can give us no enthusiasm that they’ll be any more willing to use it and to use it well in the future.

You might think I’d be upset that they haven’t used it, but in fact I’m happy they haven’t used it, because the legislation now—and as this bill is written, the legislation in the future—would provide that if they make a federal accessibility standard, it can actually cut back on the rights that the legislation now provides, because once a regulation is made, it is fully dispositive of the right to accommodation under the transportation legislation. That is really bad.

We need you to first remove that feature in the Transportation Act so that a standard, if enacted, can only extend our rights and never cut them back. Second, we need you to concentrate all power to make accessibility standards in the federal cabinet.

As well, this bill splinters the power to enforce this legislation among four federal organizations: the accessibility commissioner, the CTA, the CRTC and the tribunal that regulates federal employment. Again, this is a formula for confusion.

The federal government response to date has been inadequate. It simply said, “We’ll have a policy that there will be no wrong door. Whichever agency you go to, no matter how confusing it is to figure it out—and believe me, it is confusing—if you go in the wrong door, we’ll send you to the right door. Problem solved.” No, it isn’t, because all that does is fix the problem of which door you go in. It does not solve the substantial problem that happens once you’re inside that door. It means we have to lobby four agencies to get them up to the necessary level of expertise. It means we have to learn four different sets of procedures, because they may all use different procedures once you get inside the door. It means we have to go to agencies that may not have any expertise in disability and accessibility.

It makes far more sense to simply mandate the new accessibility commissioner with all accessibility enforcement under this act. The fact is simply that the design of this bill, splintering among these agencies, serves only two interests: the bureaucracies that want to preserve their turf and those obligated organizations that would rather this law have weaker standards, slower implementation and weaker enforcement. That is not consistent with the federal government’s commendable motivations and intentions under this legislation.

Let me conclude by turning to one other point we’d like to emphasize. Members of this committee have asked what could be done to ensure that on day one, this law will make a real difference. Here’s the answer, and it’s not now in this bill.

This bill should be amended in accordance with the proposals in our brief to ensure that whenever federal money is spent, it can never be used to create a new barrier or perpetuate an old barrier against people with disabilities. It’s commendable that the bill allows the making of access standards for federal procurement of goods and services, but that’s not the only way the federal government spends money. The federal government right now spends a lot of money on infrastructure, and not only federal infrastructure, but money is transferred to communities or provinces for local projects such as public transit, hospitals and so on. We urge that any federal spending on procurement, infrastructure, loans or grants to business or otherwise have strong accessibility strings attached, monitored and enforced, so that federal money is never used to make things worse for us.

On day one, that could start making a difference.

(0810)

In conclusion, I have a really strong sense of personal history today, because 38 years ago, when the Charter of Rights was only a proposal, it did not include equality for people with disabilities. I had the privilege of being one of the many people who came here to argue that the charter be amended to include equality for people with disabilities.

Working together, we succeeded then. Working together now, we can succeed with this bill, which is strong on intention but weak on enforcement and implementation. We now have the opportunity to work together with you again to create a strong law that will make the victory of 38 years ago—equality for people with disabilities—not only a legal guarantee, but a reality in the lives of all of us.

Thank you very much.

(0815)

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much, sir.

Now we will hear from Christopher Sutton, national executive director of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association. You have seven minutes, sir.

[Expand]

Mr. Christopher Sutton (National Executive Director, Canadian Hard of Hearing Association):

Good morning, and thank you for the honour of inviting the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association here today as you learn more about Bill C-81.

The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association was established in 1982 and is the leading consumer advocacy organization representing the needs of nearly four million Canadians with hearing loss. With a network from coast to coast to coast, we work co-operatively with professionals, service providers, government and others to provide life-enhancing information, support and advocacy to ensure that people with hearing loss can overcome barriers in all aspects of their lives.

My name is Christopher Sutton. I’m the national executive director of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association. Like most of my colleagues here before you today, I’ve had the privilege to work on behalf of people with disabilities and have worked in corporate, not-for-profit and government sectors. Even with my advanced level of education and professional success, as a person who lives with an invisible disability, I live with barriers on a daily basis.

The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association supports Bill C-81. While we acknowledge that laws and standards are only one part of breaking down barriers, we see this as a positive step towards ensuring that everyone can live in a barrier-free society. As an individual who has lived in the United States, where they have the Americans with Disabilities Act, I am hopeful about what this legislation will accomplish.

The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association congratulates the Government of Canada for its work on developing this legislation and the process they undertook to consult with people with disabilities to ensure that this legislation meets our needs. Our organization was a partner in this consultation process and continues our work through our engagement with the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance. We are pleased to see that so many of the recommendations we provided are included in this critical legislation.

We see some areas in which there could be improvements to ensure that this legislation is the best possible and allows Canada to lead globally in making sure we live in a barrier-free society. As one of the partner organizations working with the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance, we support the recommendations that were provided to this committee and would like to stress the following recommendations.

First, regarding timelines for achieving a barrier-free Canada, our recommendations are similar to those used in Ontario with the AODA. With the goal of having a barrier-free Ontario by 2025, we recommend that specific timelines and deadlines be built into the legislation so that people have a vision and a goal to work towards. We know a barrier-free society will not happen overnight, but we have a vision and a commitment that’s critical. We believe that specific timelines and deadlines must be created for establishing the infrastructure to implement the act. This also needs to be done for the Accessibility Standards Development Organization, for standards and regulation committees, for the chief accessibility officer and office, and for the accessibility commissioner and office. We also need to make sure that we set timelines and deadlines for studying and implementing these standards and regulations and for making progress reports.

Second, we recommend that disabled people have access to communication accommodations and supports. While most people think of accommodations and supports as access to a building with a ramp and so forth, it’s really much more than that, and understanding a fully accessibility-built environment is very important. We strongly encourage the use and adoption of innovative solutions that provide access to communication accommodations and support. These communication accommodations include things such as CART captioning, ensuring that service counters, conference rooms and other facilities are looped for those with hearing assistive devices, text communications, sign language, and other forms of communication supports. Communication and supports must be made mandatory through standards and regulations.

Third, we recommend that funding be made available so that people with disabilities and the organizations that work to represent them are properly compensated for their contributions to the design and implementation of this legislation. Too often, people with disabilities are asked for their expertise and lived experience and are given no financial compensation for their contributions. Funding is also needed to develop tool kits, guidelines, training and education programs, and other things to ensure a successful implementation of this legislation.

(0820)

Also, additional funds need to be provided to organizations like mine that work on behalf of people with disabilities, so that we can continue to provide resources to these individuals so that they can learn more about their disabilities and how to live barrier-free lives.

Probably one of the most important things is to create a culture of inclusion and equity. All people employed by the federal public sector, including staff, must engage in intensive education programs to ensure that they understand and demonstrate inclusive attitudes. It’s important that we show at all levels that accessibility is critical. All employees should be examples and role models for creating a culture of inclusion and equity. We must develop policies and practices that must be set and followed and that change attitudes. We also need to have people with disabilities at all aspects and levels of employment. People with disabilities need to be present, and they need to be seen so that we’re part of this change.

While I am here to address disability issues as a whole, and not specifically hearing loss, I do want to bring your attention to the rising number of people with hearing loss and the associated economic burden, which causes a problem in Canada and globally. Hearing loss has rarely been an issue that captures public support, and while some strategies for hearing health care have been implemented in some provinces, awareness and resource allocations for hearing heath care remain scarce. This is of concern. Unaddressed hearing loss puts affected Canadians at significant risk for unemployment and for developing other serious conditions, such as depression and anxiety, at further cost to our health care system.

You may be already aware. Last week I provided you and your office with an invitation to have an opportunity to address these issues in a separate conversation, and I look forward to receiving your response.

The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association is committed to continuing its work with this committee and the government as they develop this legislation to ensure that it meets the needs of all people with disabilities.

I thank you again, and I look forward to answering any questions you may have.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much, sir.

Now, from the CNIB Foundation, we have Angela Bonfanti, vice-president, Ontario and Quebec, and Robbi Weldon, program lead, peer support and leisure.

You have seven minutes, please.

[Expand]

Ms. Angela Bonfanti (Vice-President, Ontario and Quebec, CNIB Foundation):

Good morning.

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thanks for giving CNIB an opportunity to speak here today.

As you mentioned, I am joined here by my colleague, Robbi Weldon, who is our program lead for peer support and leisure for eastern Ontario, and she’ll be sharing this presentation with me today.

I’d like to start off with a brief overview of CNIB’s history and why we are here today. We were founded in 1918. We just celebrated our 100th anniversary. We were founded by wounded war veterans who were coming back and looking for help for those who had lost significant sight through their journey serving Canada in the war.

Throughout the last 100 years, CNIB has done a number of things that have helped to fill gaps that are around societal inequities that people with sight loss face every day. Employment is the one that we have tried and tried again and have yet to succeed on.

We believe that a piece to this puzzle is really around the accessibility of our procedures, of our legislation and of our buildings, and, to Christopher’s point, not just the bricks and mortar and the physical space. Our presentation here today will focus on what we mean when we say “accessible” and what this means for people with sight loss.

Today, CNIB’s mission is to have a bolder, brighter future. We are an advocacy organization that is here to boost engagement in the world of work, to unleash the power of technology, and to drive achievement and equality for the next century of work that we are going to be in.

I’m going to turn it over to Robbi now to present her portion of the presentation.

[Expand]

Ms. Robbi Weldon (Program Lead, Peer Support and Leisure, CNIB Foundation):

Good morning, everyone. Thank you for having me here today.

My name is Robbi Weldon, and I am an employee of CNIB. I also am a person with sight loss since the age of 15. I am a four-time Paralympic athlete and mother of two children. Although I race 95 kilometres an hour downhill on the tandem, my biggest fear is crossing the street each day to catch the bus to work.

As said, physical barriers are a large part of the barriers that persons with blindness or partial sight face on a daily basis, but stronger than that are the access to information and the attitudinal barriers.

As a person with sight loss, I don’t use a guide dog and often don’t use a cane. It’s an invisible disability, having to explain myself to persons in service industries. For example, I was coming back from a World Cup in May to the Toronto Pearson International Airport through customs, and I used the accessibility lane. I approached the worker in customs, and he reprimanding me for being in the accessible lane, even though I had identified that I had vision loss. Those are the types of attitudinal barriers we face.

We’re here today to promote the idea that beyond legislation, there’s a great deal of funding required on an ongoing basis to educate and bring awareness to Canadians at all levels about the importance of changing those attitudes and removing barriers, whether they be physical or, as I said, access to information and attitudinal barriers.

Thank you.

(0825)

[Expand]

Ms. Angela Bonfanti:

As part of this consultative process since 2016, whether it be through government consultation, public town halls, thematic round tables, the Prime Minister’s youth forum, or an online survey, we at CNIB applaud the federal government for this legislation. CNIB was also part of two disability consultative groups funded by the federal government to consult with Canadians with disabilities from coast to coast to coast.

After Bill C-81 was tabled this June, CNIB analyzed the legislation, and we conducted our own nationwide survey on the legislation with people who have sight loss and with sight-loss advocates. Our recommendations and testimony today are based on what we heard over the past three years and are also based on our experience over the last 100 years.

As my colleague Robbi started to indicate, CNIB believes that substantial amendments are needed to strengthen Bill C-81. We agree with many of the recommendations that other disability organizations have brought forward. We would like to highlight a few recommendations we believe are key to a truly barrier-free Canada.

We agree with the need to create a new accessibility commissioner and a chief accessibility officer. As David Lepofsky has mentioned, there is a fear among Canadians with sight loss that a splintering effect will make enforcement and compliance with this legislation, future regulations and standards more onerous for Canadians with disabilities. We advise against further creation of bureaucratic processes in fear that a bottleneck, as it has in the past, may occur when the office of the chief accessibility officer is up and running. We have many years of experience advising and making structures more accessible and straightforward. We urge the government to consult with us when these new offices are being set up.

We believe that to create a society free of barriers, products and goods that are accessed by taxpaying Canadians should be accessible to all. That is why CNIB urges the scope of Bill C-81 to be broadened to require the federal government to procure materials, technologies and services. This will also help to facilitate a shift in the private sector, which will want to do business with the federal government and hopefully by extension do better business themselves.

Frankly, many procured materials are inaccessible. If the government creates a procurement strategy with accessibility in mind, everyone will benefit.

As Minister Qualtrough currently has ministerial oversight regarding this legislation and Canada’s procurement strategy, she is in a prime position to ensure barriers are removed.

For example, point-of-sale terminals are often inaccessible for persons with sight loss and other disabilities. They have to ask a stranger to indicate whether they’ve put in the right PIN. They have to give a stranger their personal financial information to ensure that their groceries are bought and paid for. If the government procured a point-of-sale terminal that was accessible and mandated that all point-of-sale terminals used by the federal government, such as those used at Canada Post, were accessible, this could greatly shift the use of point-of-sale terminals that non-federally regulated entities utilize.

The world is changing quickly. New technologies are being created daily, and old practices are being modernized. Organizations and companies are changing the way business is done. People can print wirelessly. Documents are now saved on the cloud instead of on wired networks and in filing cabinets.

I hold in my hand a smart phone, something many federal organizations already provide for their staff. Robbi and I have used the same piece of technology to help us get our jobs done. This is through the use of artificial intelligence and other applications that are built into this device. It’s not the only solution, but it is an economical solution, and frankly, it is already being done.

Finally, if the federal government wants a society without barriers, then all future legislation, policy, regulations and funding should be reviewed through a disability lens: “nothing for us without us”. This is consistent with the federal government’s gender-based analysis plus that was done in the past few budgets. As Canadians get older and live older, they are more likely to develop a disability. The government’s policies, legislation and regulations should not perpetuate further barriers.

The sight-loss population unemployment rate is three times the size of the national average. We believe this could be key to helping us to finally close that gap in employment.

(0830)

With the amendments stated today, as well as others you have heard from the disability community, Bill C-81 can be a strong piece of legislation and ultimately create an accessible Canada.

We thank the committee for inviting CNIB to appear before you, and we look forward to answering your questions. Thank you.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much. Thank you to all of you.

We’re going to get started right away with questions.

First up, we have MP Finley.

[Expand]

Hon. Diane Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk, CPC):

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Lepofsky, I would like to thank you for your very eloquent and impassioned speech. I found it enlightening and very motivating.

One concern I have with this bill is the difference between how federally regulated departments or agencies are treated and how the private sector that is under federal regulation will be treated in terms of their accountability, exemptions and enforcement. I’m wondering if you can comment on that, please.

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

We think there should be one regime for enforcement for everybody. It makes it easier. It makes it fair. It makes it cheaper. It makes it work.

We also propose and recognize that you don’t set one-size-fits-all rules in the design of any accessibility standard. The requirements and the timelines will vary depending on the size and capacity of the organization. That’s an accepted requirement for designing an accessibility standard, and that can be done under this act. It is rendered far more complicated if who you are, which agency you are and what kind of work you’re doing dictates which rules you have to comply with, and the timelines, and who you go to for enforcement.

The best way to achieve what you are talking about is a uniform process for enforcement under the accessibility commissioner—not splintered. It is one body that sets all accessibility standards. That’s the federal cabinet.

Believe it or not, with the way this bill is designed right now, it’s not cabinet that gets the final say when it comes to transportation barriers; it’s the CTA. If the CTA doesn’t propose the standard or adopt it, Canada can’t approve. it. Why should the CTA have a veto over cabinet? Last time I checked, we vote for parties who form the cabinet. We don’t vote for the CTA.

[Expand]

Hon. Diane Finley:

Thank you.

One part of this bill talks about having, after three years of consultation to get this far, several more years of consultation to determine the standards that should be applied. We had the Canadian council for disabilities here. They say they already have standards. VIA Rail consulted them when they were planning their renovations, remodelling and retrofits. Around the world, different places have brought in standards to varying degrees of success.

Do you believe that another several years are required, or do the standards that are needed already exist?

(0835)

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

I know your party has raised concerns about this, and respectfully, we don’t agree. Let me explain why. I urge you to reconsider your concern.

There should be timelines for action so that consultations don’t go on forever. On the other hand, we do not have any good accessibility standards in Canada in the major areas we’re discussing. We have building codes, but respectfully, they’re all somewhere between lousy and close to lousy when it comes to accessibility. They’re up to date as of maybe early last century. If you build a building that complies with the Ontario Building Code, you can readily be creating barriers in that building. We’ve released videos—which have gone viral—documenting this in brand new buildings using public money.

It’s the same when it comes to any number of other areas. The standards in Ontario—and my coalition has been in the lead lobbying on these—are, in all cases, helpful but woefully inadequate. There are some areas internationally where there are standards that can be learned from and adopted, but we do need a process here whereby we look at what’s been done here or elsewhere, decide where they’re helpful and replicate that, or decide they’re too weak and do better. You can’t do that at the drop of a hat. That doesn’t mean doing it for ridiculously long timelines, but we need to take the time to get it right.

I know there has been some criticism that this bill is just mandating a bunch of new consultations. In fairness, I think that overstates the case. It’s not that the standards are out there and we can just copy and paste them and they’re ready go. Too often, that’s just not the case.

[Expand]

Hon. Diane Finley:

Are there any jurisdictions or authorities in particular that you would recommend be consulted in this process?

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

The two places I know where they are the furthest ahead in certain respects are the U.S. for certain and, in some areas, the state of Israel. We haven’t surveyed all around the world to be in a position to give you a comprehensive review, but I know that Israel puts in stronger requirements than Ontario does. They have more enforcement officials for accessibility in the tiny state of Israel, with a few other problems on their plate, than in the entire province of Ontario.

[Expand]

Hon. Diane Finley:

I’ll pass.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Up next, we have Bobby Morrissey, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey (Egmont, Lib.):

Thank you, Chair.

I would like to follow up with Mr. Lepofsky on the discussion you were just having. You made the comment that the focus should be on timelines for action. I’m interpreting your answer, and correct me if I’m wrong, to mean that simply putting timelines in place that have to be achieved may not get what you want. The bill should focus on implementing timelines for accessibility targets. Could you just expand on your position or your statement on timelines for action?

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

Certainly. Thank you.

Timelines are needed in two contexts.

First, the bill is lacking an ultimate deadline for achieving full accessibility.

You’ve heard from many groups that have said we need that, and I don’t know if you’ve heard from any groups that said we don’t. The only person who’s come before this committee, I believe, to make a case against doing that, and correct me if I’m wrong, is Minister Qualtrough, who may have said, or someone may have said, “Well, we don’t have a timeline in the Criminal Code to be crime free.” It’s a wrong comparison.

We have a criminal code because we know that unfortunately in our society, there will always be violence and so on. We need laws to protect us when that happens. On the other hand, we can achieve full accessibility by a deadline if we set the deadline.

We do have a society now in which we manage to ensure that we have women’s washrooms in public buildings. We don’t have to even think about that anymore.

You heard yesterday from Marie Bountrogianni, who wrote Ontario’s accessibility law. She talked about how in the design of Ontario’s law, the idea of an end deadline was hers and her government’s, not ours. They were very clever in doing that. It was a great move.

She said we’re doing this so that we reach a point where we can think about accessibility in our environment for people with disabilities the way we think about women’s washrooms. It just happens, and we don’t even have to think about it anymore.

That’s the first thing. We need an end deadline. Without it, progress will be slower. While progress in Ontario hasn’t been fast enough, the end deadline has played a very important role in any progress we’ve made. If this bill has an end deadline, it will be stronger. If it doesn’t, it’s basically telling people with disabilities, “We’d like accessibility, but don’t expect it, ever. There may be some progress, but we’re not prepared to say when or even if a world you can fully participate in will ever really happen.”

The other deadlines that need to be built in are concrete deadlines by which various implementation measures in the bill must be taken by government—when standards must be made by, when public officials and agencies like the accessibility standards development organization must be established, and those kinds of timelines.

What we know about government, regardless of party, as we’ve learned in Ontario, in Manitoba and elsewhere where legislation exists, is that unless there are timelines by which public servants must take certain actions to get the bill and the measures it requires up and running, they will fall behind. It’s not because they’re bad people, but because they have competing pressures.

To put it simply, folks, you guys are in the political biz, and in the political biz, your timeline is usually the crisis of next week, and the distant future for you is next year’s election. Beyond that, it’s really out of the spectrum of what people even think about.

We need legislative timelines that go beyond that, and a process to implement it. As in Ontario, if a government fails to meet one of those deadlines, there’s a place we can go and an order we can get for the measure they were obliged to take.

(0840)

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

I’d be interested to briefly hear your comments about a concern that was heard from some of the stakeholders about the deadline to make Canada fully accessible. Should the goal continue to be to always strive to achieve a more accessible Canada, or to achieve a static accessibility goal?

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

It’s never static, but setting a goal of more accessibility is basically telling us that tokenism works, not to say that’s what you mean. A goal of making Canada more accessible means that if you put in one ramp in Vancouver and fix one inaccessible website in Halifax, and you’ve made Canada more accessible. That’s all you have to do, and then you can celebrate that we achieved what we set out to do in this bill.

That’s not what the government means. They are aiming for a lot more. They’ve said it. Commend them for their intentions.

What this means is that you need to say that the goal of full accessibility is set by a certain timeline. Whatever the deadline is in Ontario…. If it was 20 years out, that told organizations and municipalities. In the case of the federal government, it would tell Bell Canada, Rogers, Air Canada, Canada Post and the others that you regulate, “Okay, folks, the clock’s ticking now, so go back and start making your plans for how you’re going to get there on time.” The government will be telling itself the same thing.

It will also enable us to measure progress, because when we’re halfway through that timeline, we can ask if we are halfway to that goal. If we’re not, then those in your seats will be able to face the call from the community to say that we’re ahead of schedule or that we’re behind schedule and changes need to be made.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you.

MP Hardcastle is next, please, for six minutes.

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Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle (Windsor—Tecumseh, NDP):

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to thank everyone for their thought-provoking comments today. I’m going to try to get us to talk about some of the things that haven’t been mentioned. I know there are recurring themes, but we need to explore more fully how we can practically apply amendments and be confident in a consensus about certain amendments.

Yesterday we heard about the lack of a mention of a national building code in this legislation. Today, we’re hearing about the responsibility of an accessibility commissioner and a chief accessibility officer.

Maybe you can talk a bit about what you think the roles are and about how we should be articulating standards and whose responsibility that is ultimately or which office should be overseeing that.

(0845)

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Mr. David Lepofsky:

Are you directing that to all of us?

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Yes, in general; it’s to whoever wants to go.

Mr. Lepofsky, you always have a lot just on the tip of your tongue, I think, so don’t hold back.

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Mr. David Lepofsky:

Let me offer it to you in a couple of sentences. Then my colleagues can add in.

All enforcement should be under the accessibility commissioner, pure and simple. Right now, the way the enforcement works…. This is a specialty of mine. I teach law, and I’m having trouble figuring out this bill, so I have to figure that other people are going to likely have similar difficulties.

On the making of accessibility standards, they should all be recommended by CASDO, the Canadian accessibility standards development organization. That’s the way the government designed it and that’s right, but they should all then be enacted by one body, and that’s cabinet. The bill doesn’t say that. That’s wrong.

There is a chief accessibility officer. Their mandate is confusing. We’ve provided in our brief a way to clarify it. Their role really should be as a national watchdog to keep us all on topic and on schedule. They should be issuing reports and recommendations to all of us, not prevented by any minister, and they should be doing so to let us know when we’re doing well but also where we have to do more.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Does anybody else want to add to that?

[Expand]

Ms. Angela Bonfanti:

I agree. I think CASDO is a great element of the bill, and that’s what our survey told us after the bill was introduced when we surveyed thousands of people with sight loss.

I also think it’s really important that we have a group of people with disabilities who are part of this process, especially when we start talking about those who want to put forward exemptions and other pieces, which will inevitably happen. I think the body is right, and we are in total agreement with David on this, but we need to have a group of people who have the lived experience at the deciding table.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

That gets me back to the issue of exemptions. Where do you think we should be going in terms of pushing for amendments for this bill? If amendments are a reality, should we be asking for an appeal process and that reasons be provided, or should we get rid of that entirely?

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

I think the first step should be that the sweeping exemptions in this bill, whereby the government can give itself exemptions and the CTA can be giving out exemptions to transit providers, are all wrong. There are no exemptions from human rights, much less ones done behind closed doors with no input. The government said this bill is to be based on “nothing about us without us”. This is about taking it all away from us without us, and that shouldn’t happen.

If the concern is that there should be exemptions related to small businesses or something, for the most part the government doesn’t regulate small business, and Air Canada and Bell Canada are not small businesses. In that case, create an exemption power for small businesses. If exemptions are to be granted, the bill should explain what the criteria are, and they should be time-limited and should not be extended if there is anything showing that the company that gets the exemption has accessibility problems.

The way it’s written now, the government can give a carte blanche exemption forever to an organization, and the day after, the same organization can set about creating all sorts of new barriers, and we have no recourse in relation to the exemption. The bill doesn’t make any sense now. If there’s to be any exemption power at all, it should be tiny, narrow, time-limited, and subject to an appeal process, and there should be strict, narrow criteria about when the government can grant exemptions.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thank you.

Very quickly, can you comment on the way we should be bringing timelines into force?

I know that with UN treaties, we use the concept of progressive realization. We don’t have any coming into force provisions here, either. Can you expand on how we could be using that more effectively for this bill?

[Expand]

The Chair:

Be very brief, please.

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

The AODA Alliance brief and the ARCH Disability Law Centre brief give you specifics on which provisions need to be amended to include specific timelines.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you.

MP Hogg, go ahead, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg (South Surrey—White Rock, Lib.):

Thank you again to all of the witnesses.

As we’ve gone through a number of hearings, we’ve heard a number of issues come up. I think there are two or three principles that seem to be coming up consistently.

First, everyone thinks that it’s wonderful that this initiative has been taken. Concerns have been expressed around implementation, accountability and the principles that are inherent within those, in terms of them becoming operationalized, as well as around funding culture, procurement and accessibility.

Certainly the principle that the minister talked about from the beginning was wanting to have an approach that was not about disability but about openness and an inclusive society, and those are some of the principles that are driving us.

Mr. Lepofsky, you’ve talked a little bit about the timelines and how there would be some time-limited exemptions granted. Do you see those exemptions being for a whole field of organizations, or do you see those being individual organizations? How in fact would that be operationalized? I like the principle, but I’m not sure how that becomes operational in a meaningful way.

(0850)

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Mr. David Lepofsky:

Let me begin by saying we don’t really see the case for needing it; it’s the government that came forward with it, so our answer is that if you’re going to do it at all, do it subject to the restraints that we mentioned.

Here’s why we don’t think you need it. When you design an access standard, when you say to an organization, “Here’s what you have to do”, it’s not a one-size-fits-all standard. Different timelines can be set for taking action, depending on whether you’re public sector or private sector or whether you’re bigger or smaller. The flexibility can be designed in, based on the costs and the abilities of the obligated organizations.

Properly designed standards build those in. They’ve done it in Ontario, and if anything, the timelines have been too long. In other words, they’ve given obligated organizations more time than they needed to. It’s certainly never been the case that they’ve been making them rush into action sooner. That’s where the flexibility gets built in anyway.

Some members at this committee have asked at the hearings, “What’s the cost of doing this?” Well, the cost of taking these actions is already required under the human rights code. This bill doesn’t actually impose new obligations. It should codify the obligations that have been on the books under the charter and the Canadian Human Rights Act for decades. Recognizing that some organizations can do more sooner, because they have more resources and more capacity, you build that into the standards. You don’t need to then turn around and create exemptions that essentially double-count and double-credit that situation.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

If I’m an organization or a small business somewhere in a rural part of Manitoba and I’m not meeting the standards, are you suggesting we grant exemptions to small organizations, or is it to the whole business community? How do you break that down into an operational model?

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

First, we wouldn’t create any exemptions to an entire sector of the economy. That wouldn’t make any sense. You build into the standard different requirements based on the size of the organization and the resources or capacity of the organization. The human rights code is written exactly that way, and so is the Charter of Rights.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Then would an individual organization be given an exemption because it was part of an area, or would I have to change my hardware and individually have to apply to you?

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

I’m going to turn it around and say it’s the government side that is asking for the exemption power, so if you’re going to have one at all—we don’t see the need for it—make it as narrow as possible. If the motivation behind the government wanting to create an exemption power is concern about small business, create a power that says exemptions can be granted, but only to organizations of this size, based on capacity, based on an application and a request, and make it time-limited based on specific criteria. In other words—

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Ms. Bonfanti—

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

Do you follow me? In other words, if that’s the worry—and I can’t tell you that’s the worry, because we’re not the one espousing it…. The bill gives the power to grant an exemption to anybody, anytime, for any reason.

[Expand]

Ms. Angela Bonfanti:

David, I’d like to weigh in on this, if that’s okay.

I think federal regulations should have no exemptions. That’s our stance completely. Where there are exemptions outside of that, we need to have a published, online, accessible format, a very transparent way for someone to put forward a request for exemption. This alleviates the backdoor conversations and the smaller routes that somebody can take that often happen when there’s bureaucracy. Make it public, make it accessible, and give it a timeline.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Given that statement, can you describe for me how you might grant exemptions, what criteria, culture or organization you might grant an exemption to? Can you describe some of those?

[Expand]

Ms. Angela Bonfanti:

I don’t think it would be organization or sector, because even under the small business area the revenue levels vary, the debt levels vary. I think we have to be smarter about the criteria, and it should not be a blanket approach. If I’m a small business in Manitoba and I’m running a small restaurant with 20 seats and I’m running at a deficit, there should be criteria online so that if I fall within that category and I need an exemption for now, not forever, I have a plan in place to become compliant under the act.

(0855)

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

You’re saying there would be a firm deadline, and then you’re suggesting people can apply to extend that deadline for particular circumstances—

[Expand]

Ms. Angela Bonfanti:

Not forever. There are improvements everywhere.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

—and those are the types of circumstances you would see.

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

Let me just give you another example of where things can go wrong.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Be very brief, sir.

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

Maybe I was younger. I’ve read these debates, and forgive me, but my ears glaze over after a while—

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

You should try sitting on this side for a while.

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

—but don’t take that personally.

One suggestion that was raised from someone was that we should grant exemptions if people are already in compliance. Well, if they’re in compliance, they don’t need an exemption. Then there was the suggestion that we should grant exemptions so they comply with provincial access standards. Well, if the provincial access standards are too weak, as is the case in Ontario, that’s no basis for an exemption at all. This has to be much more narrowly tailored if it’s going to happen at all.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Thank you; that’s helpful.

[Expand]

The Chair:

MP Ruimy, you have about four minutes.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, Lib.):

Thank you.

Just picking up off my colleague’s statement, if we’re a bank, for instance, and you wanted to test new equipment or you’re developing new equipment, would that be a reason to have an exemption—while you’re testing that equipment?

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

No, and I’ll tell you why. One, the access standard should have built into it the kind of flexibility to address that. If the access standard for an automatic teller machine says you need equipment that will accomplish the following outcomes—A, B and C—then if they’re testing something new, either it should meet those requirements or an existing ATM that already meets those requirements should be sitting there, and we, the user, have the choice to try one or the other.

You don’t tell people with disabilities, “Well, we’re trying out new steps, so until we finish trying out the new steps, no ramp.” It just doesn’t make any sense.

Yes, there should be room for experimentation and innovation, but not at the price of accessibility in the interim. As long as there is accessibility in the interim, go experiment with anything new. Moreover, if you design the standards well, your question won’t need to be asked, because the outcomes are what the standard might require: a machine that will enable me to do A, B and C without seeing or hearing or reading text.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Thank you.

It’s nice to see you back here. You were in my copyright committee last week. We’re doing the five-year legislative review of copyright, and we specifically wanted to include a portion on disability to make sure that if there are any amendments to copyright law, we could apply them to your community. That’s kind of eye-opening for a lot of people, and I heard your testimony there.

When we’re talking about timelines—and I’m just trying to wrap this all together because I don’t have a lot of time—what we’re hearing is an evolution of where we want to get to. There’s no one thing that tells us we’re there and we’re done. It’s a process to get to where we want to go.

I received an email from a constituent yesterday. She says she’s a person with multiple chemical sensitivities and hyper-electrosensitivity and finds it difficult and painful to enter all public places, including government and medical offices and hospitals, because of the use of chemicals, chemically scented products and wireless technologies, including Wi-Fi.

This could be considered a disability. How does one even include that? When you’re talking about folks who can’t hear or see, those are things we know, like people in wheelchairs. This takes it to a different level. You can’t put a timeline on that. I can see timelines on when bodies are going to come together and how long it’s going to take for certain standards to be developed, but it’s an ongoing process.

Can any of you speak to that?

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

As I understand your question, what you’re really saying is that we can set timelines for taking actions like when to start enforcing, when to have agencies set up and when to make standards, but you’re questioning whether we can have an end date.

(0900)

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Yes.

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

We have one in Ontario, and what you just talked about didn’t hold us back. It hasn’t held back that timeline from creating positive pressure on organizations to sit down and figure out how we’re going to get there and get to work on it. It’s not indefinite; 2025 is getting closer. It hasn’t stopped us from being able to turn to the government and say, “You’re behind schedule; here are the things you need to do.”

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Just to push back on that, yesterday we heard from Manitoba, which had a 10-year deadline, and they’re very disappointed with where they are at the five-year mark. These are the challenges you face when you implement a drop-dead timeline. That’s the challenge that we as a committee are facing.

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

Just so you understand, we share Barrier-Free Manitoba’s concern about the progress in Ontario, but the solution to that is not to take away the very powerful tool we have. The solution to seeing that they’re going too slow is not to create a yardstick to measure slow by; the solution is tell the government, as we are in Ontario and as they are in Manitoba, that it’s not on schedule and to get to work.

We need tools that require the government to have not only that end timeline, but intermediate timelines that are more effective and that will more effectively keep us on schedule.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I agree.

[Expand]

Mr. David Lepofsky:

The solution to your problem is not that we should avoid having an end date because we may not make it, but to create an end date that’s doable—not one that’s next week or a millennium from now—and then implement intermediate timelines designed to make sure we’re on schedule.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Excellent. Thank you very much.

I’m going to have to step in and wrap this panel up. I want to thank all of the witnesses for being here today and contributing to the study of this bill.

We will suspend for a few moments while we set up the next panel. We’ll be back in just a few minutes. Thank you.

(0900)

(0905)

[Expand]

The Chair:

We’ll come back to order.

Welcome to our next panel.

We have joining us today, from the Canadian Association of the Deaf, Frank Folino, president, and James Roots, executive director.

Welcome to both of you. Thank you for being here today.

Coming to us via video conference from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, we have David Arnot, chief commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

Can you hear me, sir?

[Expand]

Mr. David Arnot (Chief Commissioner, Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission):

Yes, thanks.

Good morning.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Good morning.

Thank you very much for joining us on what would be a very early hour for you this morning.

We’re going to start off with the Canadian Association of the Deaf. Frank Folino and James Roots, the next seven minutes are all yours.

[Expand]

Mr. Frank Folino (President, Canadian Association of the Deaf) :

[Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for inviting us to appear before this committee to study Bill C-81, the accessible Canada act.

My name is Frank Folino, and I am the president of the Canadian Association of the Deaf.

This is my colleague, James Roots, executive director of the Canadian Association of the Deaf.

The CAD-ASC is a national non-profit organization that promotes accessibility for deaf people who use American Sign Language, ASL, and

[Translation]

Quebec sign language.

[English]

CAD-ASC works with the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance, FALA, to advise and improve Bill C-81, the accessible Canada act. Bill C-81 is very important for persons with disabilities and deaf persons, as it would lead to an improvement in their quality of life. The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, has stated that 5,000 new jobs will be created for people with disabilities and for deaf, blind and hard-of-hearing persons in Canada.

We commend the Government of Canada for introducing Bill C-81, which is the right step towards becoming an accessible Canada. CAD-ASC and the deaf community want Bill C-81 to be improved and to become law.

We would like to recommend the recognition of ASL and LSQ as official languages of deaf people in Canada because they do actually provide full accessibility to information, communication and services. It will make a huge difference for deaf Canadians, and you will be in compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, CRPD, that Canada ratified in March 2010, which has five different articles that mention the specific rights of sign languages.

Currently, there are 45 countries whose governments have recognized their national sign languages, including Ireland, Greece, Scotland, Italy, Mexico and New Zealand. Canada is not on this list. Such recognition in Canada would ensure the removal of barriers and ensure equal access, which is an important step towards becoming an inclusive, accessible Canada.

As we integrate both English and French societies, this means that deaf people in Canada would finally have equal access to federal government services. Examples would be production of accessible videos on federal government websites, provision of ASL and LSQ video interpreting at federal government services—Service Canada would be one example—provision of picture-in-picture ASL and LSQ interpretation services for broadcast television and digital communications such as federal leadership debates or emergency alert announcements, and any other kind of accessibility services.

Let’s imagine for a moment how Bill C-81 will improve the lives of deaf people in Canada. Let’s say that a deaf person is at the Ottawa International Airport and his or her seat needs to be reassigned due to an overbooking by the airline. The deaf person approaches the airline customer service representative at the gate, and they connect by video interpreting services. Immediately, they are able to communicate in ASL or LSQ through a video interpreter to resolve the overbooking issue and to reduce stress and confusion.

A second example would be a deaf person who is watching a federal political leaders’ debate with sign language interpretation. For English, the debate has ASL interpreters, and for French, it has LSQ interpreters, picture-in-picture on screen, with closed-captioning in English and in French so that we as deaf people can participate and be privy to what is happening during the debate in order to have a good understanding of the different platforms that the candidates have.

(0910)

Therefore, we believe amendments are needed for Bill C-81 to achieve its stated purpose. Today we highlight several recommendations.

One, we recommend that Bill C-81 include an amendment that will recognize ASL and LSQ as official languages of deaf people in Canada. This will allow Canada to join other countries that have already included in their national accessibility legislation recognition of their national sign languages, following the requirements of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Second, timelines are essential for ensuring that Bill C-81 will advance accessibility. We recommend dates and timelines of up to five years for development and implementation of accessibility standards and regulations for each targeted area.

Third, CAD-ASC agrees with the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance, or FALA, recommendation that the six targeted barrier areas must be expanded to include communication. This change will bring focus to barriers, accommodations and supports for people with communication disabilities, as well as for people who are deaf.

Fourth, Bill C-81 does not designate a single point of access to oversee the complaints process. We recommend standardization of process for timely resolution of complaints, and a single point of access that supports deaf people and people with disabilities who present complaints, which will avoid unnecessary barriers, delays, and inefficiencies to the process. To avoid these problems, the accessibility commissioner should receive all complaints about violations of accessibility standards.

Fifth, financial support must be available to assist with legal fees for individual complaints.

Sixth, we recommend that the proposed Canadian accessibility standards development organization, CASDO, include a minimum of two-thirds of deaf people and people with disabilities on its board, staff, executives and committees.

Seventh, we recommend that any entity that receives funding from the federal Government of Canada comply with federal accessibility standards and regulations.

Eighth, Bill C-81 must be provided with sufficient and permanent funding to enable people with disabilities and organizations of people with disabilities, including deaf people, to achieve significant advances in accessibility and inclusion in all federal jurisdictions.

Ninth, we recommend that the legislation must mandate the use of comprehensive annual performance reports conducted by the chief accessibility officer based on outcomes achieved.

Finally, we recommend that legislation create, develop and support programs that improve the employment and prospects of people with disabilities and deaf people in Canada.

Our materials include several more recommendations to address other important accessibility issues, for an inclusive, accessible Canada that includes 3.5 million deaf, blind and hard-of-hearing Canadians, to ensure that they have equal rights to participate in Canadian society. It will allow Canada to better meet its human rights obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

We would be pleased to answer your questions.

[Translation]

Thank you very much.

(0915)

[English]

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

Now, for the next seven minutes, from the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, we have Mr. David Arnot, chief commissioner, coming to us via video conference.

[Expand]

Mr. David Arnot:

It’s my sincere honour and pleasure to appear before this esteemed committee this morning.

Thank you, Chair, Mr. May, for giving me the opportunity to make this presentation.

The Conference Board of Canada estimates that by 2036 one in five Canadians will have a disability. This is not surprising, considering our demographics are changing. We’re all getting older. The boomers cohort, of which I am a member, is getting older; they have expectations, they have wealth, they are vocal, and they need and expect accessibility.

Human rights commissions are at the front lines of dealing with the business, social and individual impact of not accommodating people with disabilities. Last year more than 57% of the complaints that came to the human rights commission in Saskatchewan were disability-related, and fully one-third of those complaints were disability in the area of employment.

In 2015, a study conducted by the Canadian Human Rights Commission in collaboration with the Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies, CASHRA, representing all the human rights commissions in Canada, found remarkable consistency with this negative statistic. Almost half of all human rights complaints in Canada in these jurisdictions between the years 2009 and 2013 were disability-related.

Canadians with disabilities experience systemic discrimination and inconsistency in the built environment, employment and access to services within and across all jurisdictions. Canadians with disabilities deserve a systemic response to systemic discrimination. That response must be common, consistent and continuous. In my view, it must use restorative justice principles to create a restored relationship in a positive way.

If I draw a criticism of Bill C-81—and it is really a reminder more than it is a criticism—it is that we must remind ourselves of the intersectionality facing individuals with disabilities. Particularly, number one, women with disabilities, children with disabilities and indigenous people with disabilities are disproportionately impacted. I am mindful that governments are working to support these groups I’ve just identified, but I think leadership is required, and existing good governance through legislation enables the federal government to take up that leadership role. It’s very necessary in this country. The government, the minister and this legislation have the capacity, in my opinion, to leverage change through strategic use of grants and with the sharing of best practices through, for instance, a federal-provincial-territorial table in the future.

In the present, Bill C-81 is significant because, first, it is a first strong effort to provide consistency to the rubric of accessibility in our country and because there is a strong business case for greater accessibility. There is a moral as well as a demographic urgency for doing so, because people with disabilities are the largest minority group in Canada that anyone can join. They deserve consideration.

Let me take you through these points.

First, let us consider the need for a consistent rubric for accessibility. Our country has a national building code and CSA standards that set out minimum standards for accessibility, and some provinces and many municipalities have moved well beyond those standards. All provinces have human rights codes or acts, and they are considered quasi-constitutional, meaning there is a paramountcy to that legislation. That legislation in each province and territory trumps or is paramount over any other legislation, meaning that all acts must comply with the human rights code.

The courts have stated that building codes and human rights codes are, in many cases, complementary. They work together to provide accessibility. Because their quasi-constitutionality is very important, human rights codes trump building codes. Putting people first before systems, as human rights codes do, makes very good sense.

(0920)

I say this to emphasize that connecting the proposed legislation, Bill C-81, to the Canadian Human Rights Act makes sense at this point. First, it puts people first, before some significant, complex and powerful systems. Second, the bill represents a significant step in our country’s evolution concerning disability rights. I use the word “evolution” on purpose, because positive change comes in increments, and I believe we can learn in Canada from the American experience in this regard.

Chai Feldblum, one of the architects of the Americans with Disabilities Act, told me that she and others faced push-back and uncertainty at the time that legislation came into force in the United States. What we can learn from that is, first, there is likely to be some controversy with this introduction, and second, there’s likely to be litigation, but frankly, that is to be embraced.

Up front, Bill C-81 contemplates the need to resolve competing interests in a considerate way. Human rights commissions in Canada deal with balancing those interests on a daily basis. It’s nothing to fear. It’s part of our business, and I think it’s done very well.

When I was given the opportunity to comment on the path forward during the consultation process, I suggested that the accessibility commissioner should have a statutory right to intervene in matters that involve accessibility issues that are not before the accessibility commissioner or the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal—in other words, issues that are before other administrative tribunals that have jurisdiction on accessibility issues. By “intervention” I mean that the accessibility commissioner should have the right to bring evidence and to bring legal argument at those other places, those other administrative tribunals.

I also suggested that the accessibility commissioner should have a statutory right to launch a systemic complaint in matters that involve accessibility issues. That is an efficient way to resolve disability issues, in my opinion, because it provides resolution for a large cohort of individuals, as opposed to a one-off situation. It provides an opportunity, for example, to deal with issues for all Canadians who are blind or partially sighted or all Canadians who are deaf or hard of hearing. What it would bring is a certainty, a consistency and a uniformity to all rulings with respect to accessibility that come from administrative tribunals in the federal context.

I reflect for a moment on the consultation process that was used to inform Bill C-81. I think it’s worth remembering that the process excited the imaginations of people with disabilities in this country. It raised expectations. It dealt with a sea of frustration and emotions and the marginalization that people with disabilities have had in this country for 50 years or longer. It also excited the imaginations of those who advocate on behalf of people with disabilities. There was a sense that things could change, that things would change. This represented an incredible opportunity to make long-needed change and to have much-needed recognition.

In recognizing that Bill C-81 has fundamental application to significant areas of life for people with disabilities—I’m thinking about the federal jurisdiction in transportation, communications and banking—we must also recognize that there is a strong business case for accessibility. The Conference Board of Canada suggests that getting accessibility correct in the workplace could have a positive $16.8-billion impact on the Canadian economy. In 2013, the panel on labour market opportunities for persons with disability reported that despite an aging population and a looming skills shortage, this significant talent pool of persons with disability is being overlooked.

Now let’s look at the intersection of the business case and the moral imperative.

Bill C-81 is proposing a framework from which to discuss disability and accessibility. It recognizes the need to create and apply standards to deal with a social reality. At the same time, it implies a business cost—buildings, spaces and services require resources—yet it also implies that the needs of an often unconsidered yet growing cohort need to be given top priority.

(0925)

The creation of best practice standards will inform the practices in all jurisdictions.

In my experience in accommodating disability, I have found that human rights commissions and the courts aim to resolve inaccessibility based on what is reasonable and the best practice. Fundamentally, I am saying it will be difficult to ignore the existence of well-reasoned research and well-reasoned arguments on accessibility standards, particularly when those standards have application throughout Canada.

I believe that human rights commissions, labour standards, and health and safety organizations will regard Bill C-81, the work of the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization and the work of the accessibility commissioner as giving significant guidance to the work those agencies are currently doing on the ground, on the front line, in provinces and territories. There’s a significant political and economic influence, then, that will be available through the wise actions of the incumbent accessibility commissioner.

It has been said that disability is “the last bastion of prejudice”. Bill C-81 offers a substantial support against that notion. It affirms and supplies teeth to the notion that people with disabilities deserve equal moral consideration.

Bill C-81 in part legislates the equal moral consideration contemplated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Article 9 of the CRPD requires Canada to identify and eliminate obstacles and barriers for persons with disability. Bill C-81 partially meets the obligation of these commitments, and it amplifies the need for equality, fairness, equity and the respect for human dignity that exists in all human rights acts and codes in this country.

Fundamentally, accessibility is crucial to the inclusion of citizens with disabilities in the social, cultural and economic life of our country. Increasing accessibility in buildings, businesses, and the public and community spaces we all use makes good sense from a business perspective. It is also a best practice for inclusion of people with disabilities, so that all people in Canada are able to participate to the fullest extent in the life of Canada.

We need a barrier-free Canada. We need legislation to ensure a barrier-free Canada and to eliminate these barriers faced by people with disabilities currently. I believe the legislation is a significant and bold step for a better future for Canadians with disabilities.

Thank you for allowing me to make this presentation to you this morning, and for your time.

(0930)

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much, sir.

We are going to get started right away with questions.

This is just a reminder to my colleagues that we have a very hard stop at 10 o’clock, as we need to be in our seats shortly thereafter.

First up is MP Diotte.

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Mr. Kerry Diotte (Edmonton Griesbach, CPC):

Thank you, and thank you to both of you for coming here to try to shed some light on something.

As an able-bodied person, I’m always interested in real-life examples of what specific issues or day-to-day challenges people with disabilities have, because that’s what we want to get to through all the bureaucratic talk and the legalese.

Starting with Mr. Folino, I’m wondering if you could describe some of the day-to-day challenges faced by people with visual impairment, and those with deaf impairment as well. I’d like you to give a specific example, so that the average person who does not suffer impairment can better understand.

[Expand]

Mr. Frank Folino :

[Interpretation] Certainly. Thank you for your question.

We face many barriers and challenges on a day-to-day basis. Often sign language interpreting services, for example, are not readily available for job interviews or various other services that we’re trying to access. Often businesses or government departments are denying services or are unaware that they are to provide sign language interpreters and that it is our right to get sign language interpreters.

For example, a deaf person may want to go to a concert. They’ve requested an ASL or an LSQ interpreter and they’ve been denied. We’re often fighting to remove those barriers. That’s frustrating for deaf people.

In another example, a deaf person may go to the CRTC proceedings. Sometimes they don’t provide interpreters for a public hearing. I may want to attend as a citizen of Canada and access what is being said, just like my other colleagues, friends or peers who are not deaf and who can attend these public hearings for the entire week. I, on the other hand, have been told that I have to rely on transcripts. We’re not equal participants in terms of accessing that information.

Another example is when I’m travelling. I may not be aware that a gate has changed or there’s a delay in a flight. There’s no LED system, so I may miss my flight. That causes more stress on a deaf individual. I can share many other examples.

Jim, do you have any?

[Expand]

Mr. James Roots (Executive Director, Canadian Association of the Deaf) :

[Interpretation] Yes. For example, I went to vote on Monday. Four people were talking to me and blocking my way. I said, “I’m sorry; I’m deaf. I don’t understand.” They continued to talk to me, and I said again, “I’m sorry; I’m deaf.” I gave them my card and showed them my name. They again spoke to me and pointed to the left. I still didn’t know what they were saying.

I went to the area with the ballot, but I wasn’t sure where to get my ballot. They pointed to one table, and I said that there was no one sitting there. They said, “Oh, yes.” Again their mouths moved, but I couldn’t understand.

I had to stand in front of a table. There was no person there. I was waiting and I thought, “Am I in the right place? I have no idea. Is this where I get my ballot?” Finally, somebody appeared and I asked for my ballot. Again, they were moving their mouth, talking. I said, “I don’t understand; I’m deaf.”

That whole experience was quite frustrating for me. I looked like a fool.

(0935)

[Expand]

Mr. Frank Folino :

[Interpretation] If you don’t mind, I would like to add one more.

If there’s an emergency alert, an attack, a tornado or a hurricane, we have to be prepared to evacuate and we need emergency preparedness mechanisms that are accessible to us.

When you’re providing announcements at the federal level, you should have sign language interpreters available. This is common practice in the U.K., France, Australia and the United States. We are so behind. If you have an interpreter for any public announcement, then you’re reaching our audience in ASL and LSQ, and they know that they need to be prepared in order to evacuate or avoid a certain catastrophe.

If ASL and LSQ are recognized as a language for deaf people, that will enable accessibility to communication and will meet our needs across Canada.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Those are great examples. I think that’s really useful. I thank you both for providing those.

[Expand]

The Chair:

You have about 20 seconds.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Mr. Folino, you talked about how everyone who receives federal funding must comply with accessibility legislation. Can you elaborate briefly on that concept?

[Expand]

Mr. Frank Folino :

[Interpretation] Certainly. I can start, and then Mr. Roots can add.

In any funding that’s provided, if they stay stagnant and they don’t follow the accessibility act…. If they want to remove barriers, for instance, and you allot any funding within that procurement process, they need to prove that they’re ensuring that things are being made accessible. You need to follow up and ensure that it’s regulated so there is that change.

There should be an annual report from the commissioner measuring those changes and seeing where there are gaps. Then fill in those gaps and invest in those areas to ensure that everything is accessible to meet those needs. That’s the reason we need those timelines in place.

[Expand]

Mr. James Roots :

[Interpretation] If you give public funds to CBC, for example, it means that CBC needs to comply and needs to be accessible. As they are an employer, any content that they provide has to be accessible. With broadcasters on TV as well, it needs to be accessible. It could mean that there’s captioning and I have access, but then on the website, cbc.ca, the same programming doesn’t have captioning, so there’s a barrier there. It’s the same program.

There’s a loophole. We would like to see Bill C-81 resolve those loopholes, close those gaps and remove the barriers.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

MP Long is next, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long (Saint John—Rothesay, Lib.):

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good morning to our witnesses.

The testimony continues to be very, very informative.

Mr. Roots and Mr. Folino, I’m so sorry for the challenges you faced this week on the voting. That’s not acceptable, and our hope is that Bill C-81 will go a long way to removing and tearing down those barriers and opening up your worlds.

Mr. Arnot, thanks for your testimony. My first question is to you.

The underlying theme, from the comments we have heard about timelines and reporting in the study thus far, seems to be one of concern regarding insufficient accountability mechanisms.

Contrary to an assertion made during the previous session, the accessibility commissioner would be required to report to Parliament by submitting an annual report to the minister, who is then required to table that report in Parliament.

In addition, clauses 131 and 132 also require independent reviews of this legislation: after the first five years under clause 131, and every 10 years thereafter under clause 132.

Mr. Arnot, based on your experience in Saskatchewan, are these accountability mechanisms adequate? Can you also suggest ways that they could be improved? Thank you.

(0940)

[Expand]

Mr. David Arnot:

Focusing on the role of the accessibility commissioner, I believe that person could interpret their role in a very significant way, which would continue to educate all Canadians.

The mechanism of reporting to Parliament could be accelerated if that person were an independent officer of Parliament. That’s something that we suggested. It’s currently not going to be part of this bill.

I believe that role and those timelines will be adequate. We can learn from them. It’s really about the uptake and the support from the community, the stakeholders, that is taken once those reports are made, and making sure that all Canadians have access to the reports, whether it’s through social media or other means.

In my opinion, the timelines may be a good start. We’ll be informed on whether they’re adequate or not by the success of the role of the accessibility commissioner.

Fundamentally, the focus should be on that commissioner making all Canadians aware of these issues. The majority of Canadians, I believe, would like to support the inclusiveness for all persons with disability, but there are many unintended consequences. We see that in the built environment and the to-be-built environment. There are big issues on transportation, provincially and municipally, that need to be addressed, because transportation is a barrier for a person whether they need to seek employment or get to employment or get to health care, education, etc.

I want to reiterate a point that was made earlier on voting. Voting municipally and provincially is a huge issue. The barriers are significant, and they haven’t been cured. Again, we need a systemic response to those—

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

I want to jump in on the voting, Mr. Arnot.

[Expand]

Mr. David Arnot:

Yes.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Mr. Roots’ testimony was compelling. You could feel the frustration. I witnessed something very similar in my riding of Saint John—Rothesay a few weeks back. What can we do to improve that?

[Expand]

Mr. David Arnot:

I think that can be accommodated in many ways for people with visual or hearing disabilities. There’s no undue hardship. There’s no argument that works for the discrimination that occurs against Canadians with disabilities trying to exercise such a fundamental right.

It’s a big issue in Saskatchewan, municipally and provincially. It continues to be so. We have some litigation in Saskatchewan dealing with those very issues, but having spoken to the disability community, I would say it’s very clear that those impediments still exist. The excuses that are put forward are not adequate, because fundamentally the resources are available to accommodate those who have disabilities and who are impaired in their ability to vote, in my opinion.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Agreed. Thank you for that.

Mr. Arnot, a number of our witnesses on both this panel and previous panels talked about the language in the bill and thought it ought to be and could be more prescriptive, rather than simply enabling. Can you point to some examples of where and how we can amend the bill to address those concerns?

[Expand]

Mr. David Arnot:

Quite frankly, I wouldn’t be able to do that now. I’d have to address that in writing to you later.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Thank you.

Mr. Folino, it was great to meet you in my office. I think it was two weeks ago. We had a great conversation.

One of the topics we talked about was the composition of the board, CASDO, and how many people with disabilities should be on that board. We talked about 50% plus one, and then you proposed two-thirds, or 70%. I know Jewelles Smith was in earlier and talked about how she wanted 100%, but we said 70%.

Can you and Mr. Roots elaborate on how important it is, and in particular how subclause 23(2) could maybe be reworded to—

(0945)

[Expand]

The Chair:

You’re way over, I’m afraid. Maybe we can come back to that question. I apologize.

We’re going to have to move on to MP Hardcastle, please.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Arnot, I’d like to hear you expand a little bit on your thoughts with regard to the accessibility commissioner. You stated earlier that this commissioner should have statutory rights to intervene in other bodies and in decision-making.

We’ve also heard concerns about the splintering of enforcement by different entities, and perhaps the accessibility commissioner should have the mandate for all enforcement. I just wonder if you can expand on your mindset about the intervention rate that you think is important. Is that based on observations and past experience?

[Expand]

Mr. David Arnot:

It is. In the Saskatchewan context, there are a number of organizations that can rule or have input into human rights issues, which leads to inconsistency and non-uniformity.

I was suggesting that the accessibility commissioner should have a statutory base to make representations not only to the human rights tribunal but also, more importantly, to the CRTC, the Canadian Transportation Agency and any other agency that’s dealing with accommodation issues. Why? It’s because if they’re allowed to intervene, call evidence and then make legal arguments, there’s a greater opportunity or chance to have a certainty, a consistency and a uniformity at very early stages, rather than to rely on appeal mechanisms to try to cure problems in those areas, which are inherently costly and time-consuming.

The best way to do it is at the initial hearing. That hearing occurs in various administrative tribunals in the federal regime, but certainly the CRTC and the Canadian Transportation Agency come foremost. The way to do that is to allow the accessibility commissioner to intervene. Intervention would mean the ability to call evidence and the ability to make legal argument.

It’s really about providing uniformity without having splintering and competing administrative tribunals with different views. The fastest way to get to consistency is to let someone like the accessibility commissioner intervene at the earliest instance to provide that uniformity.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thank you.

Mr. Chair, do I have a minute or two?

[Expand]

The Chair:

You have two, almost three.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Maybe I can ask this of Mr. Folino and Mr. Roots.

We’re talking about this idea of being able to make complaints, and you heard Mr. Arnot talking about uniformity. Can you talk about how you think we should be improving this bill and about how it is fragmented right now? As it appears right now, there are different departments—different entities, let’s say—for making complaints. There are even exemptions that can be made with no appeal process.

Do you have some observations for us?

[Expand]

Mr. Frank Folino :

[Interpretation] Certainly. We need to resolve issues efficiently and quickly. We don’t want any delays. We don’t want deaf persons or people with disabilities unsure of where they should go. There should be one door, one entry point and one person to collect all complaints. The commissioner officer should be responsible for ensuring that complaints are dealt with in a timely manner and are given to the right area.

The bill isn’t currently clear about the complaint process. There may be a complaint about an accessibility standard, but what about a complaint against a group—for example, the CRTC? They haven’t provided ASL or LSQ interpreters, for instance, in their hearings. Do we enter that same entry point? Do we complain to the accessibility officer and then they ensure that it’s dealt with in a timely way?

Also, we need to make sure that these complaints can be received in our native language, in ASL and LSQ. I need to be able to express my complaint in sign language and send it by video in my language instead of in written English or French. In Europe they are already advanced. They have set up that system. It would be nice if we could follow suit.

(0950)

[Expand]

Mr. James Roots :

[Interpretation] Bill C-81 is currently a bit confusing in terms of where these complaints go. Some complaints may go directly to CRTC, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, CTA or then, fourth, to the accessibility commissioner officer.

Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems that they make a distinction between an accessibility complaint and a discriminative complaint. How is the accessibility complaint not discriminative? I don’t understand that at all.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you.

Go ahead, MP Long, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Thank you, Chair.

Again, thank you, Mr. Folino and Mr. Roots, for your passion, leadership and advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities. It’s truly impressive and obviously much needed.

Mr. Folino and Mr. Roots, I want to go back to you with respect to the composition of the board. We talked in my office about 70%. As I said, Ms. Jewelles Smith was talking about maybe 100%. Can you give us your thoughts as to how that board should be composed?

Second, if there are amendments to subclause 23(2), potentially with different wording to make sure that people with disabilities are represented and potentially so that people with disabilities in every disability group have representation in some way, can you elaborate, Mr. Folino and Mr. Roots, on your thoughts?

[Expand]

Mr. Frank Folino :

[Interpretation] Sure. We strongly recommend that there be a minimum of two-thirds representation of people with disabilities and deaf persons in the group, because they have lived experience and they are the experts. They know what the barriers are and can help consult in terms of developing the standards to ensure that we have a barrier-free Canada.

We need that diversity on the board, and we need a minimum of two-thirds. Jewelles said 100%, yes, and would maybe go down to 70%.

That’s how we can meet the needs and ensure that we have a barrier-free Canada.

[Expand]

Mr. James Roots :

[Interpretation] Jewelles and I both strongly believe that the board should be 100% representative of the experts, but other organizations have convinced us to negotiate and agree to two-thirds.

It is important. Other organizations start with a request for 50% plus one. We strongly oppose that suggestion. We have lots of experience with various other boards and organizations and committees and staff that decided that 50% plus one was good enough, but what happens is that the disabled people then get further marginalized and pushed away. The non-disabled people take over control and then change the regulations or the rules to fifty-fifty. This means the disabled can be outvoted and they’ve lost their power and their authority.

We’ve seen that time and again. I’ve seen it happen within the disabled organizations themselves. They have a mixed board of 48% non-disabled and 52% disabled. They never advance their issues, and then eventually they get voted out.

If it’s 70%, it won’t be so easy to beat us.

(0955)

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Thank you.

Mr. Arnot, do you have anything you want to contribute with respect to the composition of the CASDO board?

[Expand]

Mr. David Arnot:

The default position would be to make sure you’re hearing and ensuring the lived experience is understood. As pointed out by one of the committee members earlier, persons without disabilities don’t fully understand the impediments and barriers put before them. I would certainly have no hesitation saying that two-thirds would make reasonable sense, as we’ve heard earlier.

It’s ensuring that the board studying those standards or overseeing them would fully understand the lived experience. The best way you could do that is for your committee to make that recommendation. Working with people with disabilities, I know the frustration they feel on a daily basis because of the non-understanding, the sea of ignorance that exists in Canada about these issues. It needs to be addressed in the most effective way possible. “The maximum” would be my short answer.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Thank you for that.

Mr. Folino, sometimes I get concerned when I hear from businesses and stakeholders in my riding, sometimes from some of my Conservative friends, that there’s too high a cost of doing this, of moving forward.

I’d like to argue that there’s a cost of not doing this. I can speak at length about a shopping mall that opened better access to people with disabilities. Their businesses thrived because there’s a major market there.

Mr. Folino, can you talk to me and discuss how there shouldn’t be a cost to breaking down barriers and opening up access?

[Expand]

Mr. Frank Folino :

[Interpretation] I understand there’s a cost to access. There are strategies or ways to address that. For example, if you want to support removing barriers in Canada, there are tax credit incentives for businesses if they are fully accessible. If you promote it in that vein, then we are investing in our Canadians and in Canada.

If you invest to ensure that change happens, everyone will benefit. Europe has a great tax incentive for accessibility to support that economy to address those changes and move those changes forward. Cost should not be a concern. There are ways to address it.

Another example is public and private organizations and government sectors working together as P3s, investing together to remove these barriers. There are lots of ways. We should not be afraid.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you.

As I stated earlier, we have a very hard deadline today, so I’m afraid we have to wrap up. Thank you very much, everybody, for being here, and thank you to the committee.

The meeting is adjourned.



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Transcript of the October 24, 2018 meeting of the House Of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities – Day 7 of Public Hearings on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act


Transcript of the October 24, 2018 meeting of the House Of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities – Day 7 of Public Hearings on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

Notice of meeting Amended

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA)

42nd Parliament, 1st Session

Meeting 118

Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 6:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.Amended

Room 415, Wellington Building, 197 Sparks Street

Televised

Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada

Witnesses

As an individual

  • Marie Bountrogianni, Dean, Chang School, Ryerson University

Barrier-Free Manitoba

  • Patrick Falconer, Consultant, Steering Committee

British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society

  • Neil Belanger, Executive Director

Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec

  • Monique Beaudoin, Administrator, Board of Directors
  • Camille Desforges, Records Manager

Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance

  • Bill Adair, Executive Director
  • Jane Arkell, Project Director

Clerk of the Committee

Stephanie Feldman (613-996-1542)

2018-10-22 11:29 a.m.

Minutes of Proceedings

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA)

42nd Parliament, 1st Session

Meeting 118

Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 6:48 p.m. to 8:46 p.m.

Room 415, Wellington Building, 197 Sparks Street

Televised

Presiding

Bryan May, Chair (Liberal)

Expand AllCollapse All

Members of the Committee present

Liberal

Conservative

Acting Members present

In attendance

House of Commons

  • Kenza Gamassi, Procedural Clerk

Library of Parliament

  • Havi Echenberg, Analyst
  • Mayra Perez-Leclerc, Analyst

Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada

Witnesses

As an individual

  • Marie Bountrogianni, Dean, Chang School, Ryerson University

Barrier-Free Manitoba

  • Patrick Falconer, Consultant, Steering Committee

British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society

  • Neil Belanger, Executive Director

Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec

  • Monique Beaudoin, Administrator, Board of Directors
  • Camille Desforges, Records Manager

Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance

  • Bill Adair, Executive Director
  • Jane Arkell, Project Director

Pursuant to the Order of Reference of Wednesday, September 26, 2018, the Committee resumed consideration of Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.

Marie Bountrogianni, Patrick Falconer, Neil Belanger, Monique Beaudoin, Camille Desforges, Jane Arkell and Bill Adair made statements and answered questions.

At 8:46 p.m., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.

Stephanie Feldman

Clerk of the Committee

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities

EVIDENCE

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

(1850)

[English]

[Expand]

The Chair (Mr. Bryan May (Cambridge, Lib.)):

Welcome everybody. We’re going to get started.

I want to thank everybody for coming back to committee at this late hour this evening. We’ll try to get things moving. I have a a bit of a preamble, so you’ll have to bear with me.

Welcome to today’s meeting on Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.

The objective of today’s meeting is to continue the committee’s thorough review of the bill. I would like to take a moment to remind both those participating in the proceedings, as well as those observing the proceedings in person and on video, that the committee adopted a motion on September 18 that included instructions for the clerk to explore options to allow for the full participation of all witnesses and members of the public on this study.

As a result, the committee has made arrangements to make all meetings in relation to the study of Bill C-81 as accessible as possible, in a variety of ways. This includes providing sign language interpretation and near real-time closed captioning in the room. Please note that both American sign language and Quebec sign language are being offered to our audience.

For those who would like to watch the American sign language interpretation, please sit in the benches to my left. For those who would like to watch the Quebec sign language interpretations, please sit in the benches to my right. In addition, please note that the first two rows of benches have been reserved for those who wish to avail themselves of these interpretation services.

Screens displaying the near real-time closed captioning have also been set up, with the English text to my left and the French text to my right. The sign language interpreters in the room are also being video recorded for the eventual broadcast of the meeting on ParlVu via the committee’s website.

In light of these arrangements, the committee would ask that if you need to leave the room during the meeting, please do not walk in front of the sign language interpreters. Instead, please use the extremities of the room. In addition, we would ask that those in the room to remain seated as much as possible during the meeting, so that everyone in the audience can clearly see the sign language interpretation.

Finally, if a member of the audience requires assistance at any time, please notify a member of the staff or the committee clerk.

I will also ask not just the witnesses who will be presenting today but also remind my colleagues, as a result of the interpretation and the unique translation with sign language, to keep our questions and answers at a pace that is not too fast. If I feel that you are going too fast, or if the folks wave to say that you’re going too fast, I may interrupt you, so I apologize in advance. We want to make sure that everybody’s messages, questions and answers today are being heard in their entirety.

That’s the end of my preamble.

I’d like to welcome the witnesses here this evening.

Appearing as an individual, we have Marie Bountrogianni, who is dean of the Chang school at Ryerson University. From Barrier-Free Manitoba, we have Patrick Falconer, consultant to the steering committee. From the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society, we have Neil Belanger, executive director. From La Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec, we have Monique Beaudoin, administrator, board of directors; and Camille Desforges, records manager. From the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance, we have Bill Adair, executive director; and Jane Arkell, project director.

Welcome to everyone. This is a big panel, so we’re going to get started right away.

We’re going to start with Marie.

The next seven minutes are all yours.

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni (Dean, Chang School, Ryerson University, As an Individual):

Thank you.

Good evening. My name is Marie Bountrogianni, and I’m dean of the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson University. I would like to thank the standing committee for inviting me here to comment on Bill C-81.

I would also like to congratulate Minister Qualtrough and the standing committee on the excellent progress made to date on the bill. I believe that most Canadians would agree that national accessibility legislation is a matter of equality and human rights.

It was my distinct pleasure to serve as cabinet minister in the legislature of Ontario from 2003 to 2007. The highlight of my tenure as minister came in June 2005, when the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, or AODA, received royal assent and came into force. The bill was voted in unanimously in the Ontario legislature. That doesn’t happen very often.

I have since had the opportunity to share my experiences developing the legislation and advising representatives from public and private organizations in Japan, Ukraine and New Zealand.

My team and I learned some very important lessons while we were writing the AODA. I’m pleased to share some of these lessons with the committee this evening in the hope that they may help inform Bill C-81.

When I first began university at the University of Waterloo in 1975, co-op placements at that university were limited for women because some of the engineering firms did not have female washrooms. When they were asked why, the answer was that it wasn’t worth the expense. Can you imagine, now, our daughters being told anything like that?

This memory of a less equitable time helped inform our mantra towards an accessible Ontario. I thought to myself, “Imagine 30 years from now when people will say there was a time in Ontario only 30 years ago when people complained about the price of a ramp for wheelchairs, the cost of making a washroom accessible or having to hire people with disabilities”.

Following meetings with disability community members and representatives from businesses, we found that they agreed that Ontario’s businesses should be accessible; however, business owners were unaware of what a difference a few accommodations could have on their bottom line. During one of these meetings, one of the representatives from business said, “Minister, as a businessman, you are scaring me, but as a father of a daughter with a disability, you are not moving fast enough.” This father’s heartfelt sentiment helped inspire my determination to push forward. It also captured the challenge.

During the consultation phase, we studied Great Britain’s Disability Discrimination Act and were taught three critical lessons. We would need a clear deadline for an accessible Ontario. There would need to be regulations established through which to enforce the law, and public education would be key for creating awareness about the bill. When we set the 2025 deadline for an accessible Ontario, many criticized that timeline was too long; however, it gave us time to ensure that we were getting it right.

The government is meant to set a positive example for its constituents. I, therefore. support the fact that Bill C-81 is focused on enforcing accessibility in areas that the federal government can regulate. I am hopeful that other Canadian businesses will follow suit. However, I would like to urge the government and the committee to consider setting a firm deadline for a barrier-free Canada.

It has been over 13 years since the AODA came into law, and Ontario still has a lot of work to do to reach its goal of becoming a fully accessible province. Just last week, the Ontario government partially lifted the freeze they imposed in June on the AODA standards development committees. The employment standards development committee can now resume its work recommending revisions to the AODA’s employment accessibility standard. Premier Doug Ford also appointed a minister for seniors and accessibility, which I think is a promising step towards promoting compliance with the legislation. I will be meeting with that minister soon.

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As identified in Bill C-81, I believe that appointing an accessibility commissioner, a Canadian accessibility standards development organization, and a chief accessibility officer would be heading in an excellent direction for enforcing compliance.

I was recently honoured, as I have been twice before, to participate in the third review of the AODA. This year’s review was led by the Honourable David C. Onley. Some of my feedback could be helpful here.

One of my most pressing recommendations for the AODA is for greater emphasis on web accessibility. At the Chang school, we believe that unlocking accessibility in online environments is an important step towards facilitating equal access and opportunities for people with disabilities. Through collaboration with the Government of Ontario’s enabling change program, the Chang school is currently developing five accessibility courses to help professionals in Ontario—and anywhere, quite frankly—learn how to develop and design accessible websites and web content. These are MOOCs. In other words, they’re free for anyone who wishes to take them. They have been very successful. Most free courses have a huge dropout rate. This one doesn’t. These modules are very successful.

We’re looking to unveil a new website next year, which will be fully accessible.

Our research also identifies a province-wide gap related to accessibility in the post-secondary education market. In order to reduce the 16% unemployment rate among Ontarians with disabilities, we believe that revisions to the AODA need to champion accessible technological innovation and advancement, as well as post-secondary educational offerings that promote accessible and inclusive environments. I believe this can be generalized across the country.

Last year, the Chang school partnered with Ryerson’s digital media zone to launch the accessibility project. This project awarded up to $25,000 and funded 17 projects for students to develop apps and other technological processes, like wearable technologies, to remove barriers faced by people with disabilities and aging populations. I’m proud to say that many of those who were awarded these grants had disabilities themselves. They are developing incredible products.

We were also recently pleased to collaborate with the CNIB to offer two courses in our certificate in entrepreneurship and small business to people living with visual impairment. We’re still learning. Even though our courses are accessible, enrolment wasn’t and neither were the books, so we had to scramble. Even though we thought we were the experts of the school, we still have a lot to learn. We similarly introduced a new leadership in accessibility and inclusion program this past September.

I believe that these examples help clearly demonstrate that partnership and collaboration are critical for realizing a barrier-free Canada. In technology in particular, we can close the unemployment gap between people with disabilities and people without. We can’t really be employed without knowing technology today. It is a major barrier for many.

In closing, I would like to encourage the standing committee to advocate for an appropriate budget for public education on Bill C-81. I believe that awareness is crucial for ensuring compliance with the legislation. I still have people asking me, “What is the AODA?” There will most certainly be push-back, but I urge you to push forward.

Again, I thank the standing committee for having invited me here. It is an honour.

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The Chair:

Thank you very much.

Now, from Barrier-Free Manitoba, we have Patrick Falconer, consultant to their steering committee.

The next seven minutes are all yours.

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Mr. Patrick Falconer (Consultant, Steering Committee, Barrier-Free Manitoba):

Good evening and thank you, Mr. Chair, vice-chairs and members, for the invitation to present.

My name is Patrick Falconer. I am here to speak on behalf of Barrier-Free Manitoba and to express our strong support for the calls for significant amendments to Bill C-81 as outlined in briefs by the AODA Alliance, dated September 27, 2018, and by the ARCH Disability Law Centre, dated October 1, 2018.

As a matter of introduction, Barrier-Free Manitoba is the cross-disability, non-partisan community initiative that has worked over the last decade on provincial accessibility rights legislation in Manitoba. Our support for both the AODA Alliance’s and the ARCH’s briefs is firmly rooted in the experience we have gained through those 10 years.

Our story is one of both hope and disappointment: hope in the Accessibility for Manitobans Act, or what’s called “the AMA”, our provincial legislation that promised major progress would be made toward achieving full accessibility by 2023, which enacted and proclaimed in 2013, had set the stage for a decade of sure and steady progress; hope in that the AMA included language, deliverables and accountability measures that created clear obligations for government; hope in that the AMA was passed by a unanimous, all-party, all-member vote of our legislative assembly; and finally, hope in that each major political party recommitted themselves to the full and timely implementation of the AMA in the 2016 general provincial election.

However, that’s pretty much where the hope ends and the disappointment begins.

We’re now halfway through the promised decade of progress. Only one of five promised accessibility standards has been developed. There is still no compliance framework established. Government has only rarely met its own timelines for obligations under the act. As well, implementation efforts continue to be substantially under-resourced and way behind any reasonable schedule. Getting even this far has taken incredible efforts on the part of our diverse and under-resourced disability communities.

We are gravely concerned that Bill C-81 not only replicates the AMA’s weaknesses, but actually compounds them. The bill does not include a clear goal of a barrier-free Canada or a date by which to achieve this. The bill uses permissive language rather than prescriptive language. It enables; it does not require. The bill creates a likelihood of multiple accessibility requirements covering similar types of barriers. It also establishes a diffused and fragmented approach to standards development, compliance and adjudication. The bill lodges responsibility for real progress with the government of the day, not Parliament.

Finally, the bill is extremely convoluted. We believe Bill C-81 as it stands will create confusion for the public, obligated organizations, and Canadians with disabilities alike. It will result in more chasing of tails than forward progress.

While representing a commendable effort with honourable intentions, we are concerned the bill is deeply flawed. Based on our decade of experience and our careful review, BFM strongly supports the recommendations for significant amendments in the two briefs I mentioned by the AODA Alliance and the ARCH Disability Law Centre.

We would respectfully add a word of caution. You might be thinking political parties at the federal level are different from those at the provincial level, or that your party is a different one. Perhaps you’re thinking the federal government is a different and more responsible order of government than our provinces. You might be thinking the types of amendments called for by the Alliance and ARCH are excessive. Our hard-won experience over the last decade suggests otherwise.

Bill C-81 presents a historic and long overdue opportunity, the opportunity of a generation. We beseech you not to squander it.

In the brief time I have remaining, I’ll highlight two additional areas of concern.

First, it is shocking to us that Bill C-81 does not incorporate any special measures to act on the federal government’s constitutional, fiduciary or special responsibilities in relation to indigenous people with disabilities. Disability rates among indigenous people are roughly two to three times higher than for the general population. Indigenous people are also among the Canadians who face the most severe barriers to accessibility. Both the higher rates and the severity of the barriers faced by indigenous people are the direct result of government policies that reflect a shameful past and that continue into the present.

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Second, we are concerned that there is no clear reference to the national building code of Canada in Bill C-81. The national building code is not only applicable in areas of federal jurisdiction. It also plays a profound role in shaping the building codes that are developed and adopted by each Canadian province. At both the federal and provincial levels, the building codes and the current limited levels of accessibility that are provided for result in costly and preventable barriers being perpetuated and newly created, every day, in built environments across Canada.

It seems likely that the responsibility for developing strong and effective accessibility standards related to the building code is meant to fall under the purview of the proposed Canadian accessibility standards development organization, CASDO. However, this remains unclear and we believe that explicit reference needs to be added to Bill C-81 or to be clarified as part of the committee’s review of this bill.

Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to our further discussion this evening.

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The Chair:

Thank you very much, sir.

Now, from the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society, we have Neil Belanger, executive director.

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Mr. Neil Belanger (Executive Director, British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society):

Thank you. Good evening.

Before I begin I’d like to acknowledge and thank the Algonquin people, on whose territories we are meeting today. I would also like to thank the committee for this invitation and opportunity to speak to Bill C-81.

My name is Neil Belanger and I am the executive director of the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society, an indigenous organization providing disability-related services to indigenous individuals and families residing in both first nation and non-first nation communities.

Our organization is very pleased that the government has introduced Bill C-81 to ensure a barrier-free Canada. It has the great potential to make positive change in many lives. Over the past two years we have had the opportunity to engage first nation communities across Canada in relation to the accessibility legislation as well as to work with our partners at the Assembly of First Nations, the national Native Women’s Association and the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance in relation to the bill and next steps.

From our work with our partners a number of recommendations have been developed, many of which have already been presented to the committee. I would like to reiterate a few of these priorities from our organization’s perspective. Number one is recognition of ASL, LSQ and indigenous sign language as the official language of the deaf. We believe this is not only an important cultural recognition but also serves as a mechanism to promote accessibility across the nation.

Number two is to ensure that the CASDO board and all subsequent committees be composed at a minimum of at least two-thirds representation of persons living with a disability, including indigenous peoples living with disabilities. This is necessary to ensure a broad level of insight and expertise is brought to the board and committees. I would refer to the example of the FALA working group, which is here today, which brought together a diverse range of individuals and groups within the disability sector and through our work together, not only have we collaboratively made recommendations in relation to Bill C-81, but it has provided us an opportunity to learn about each other and the barriers and priorities each of our groups deals with on a daily basis. This has strengthened us as a sector, and would do the same for the CASDO board and subsequent committees.

Number three is that timelines must be established. As with our partners, we are recommending a five-year timeline to implementation.

Finally, our last point is the absence of any reference under the legislation to Canada’s 634 first nation communities. From previous testimony to the committee a lack of clarity has been noted as to how Bill C-81 will impact Canada’s first nation communities. Indigenous peoples of Canada experience a rate of disability approximately twice that of the non-indigenous population. As well, persons living in poverty are more likely to become disabled than those who do not. Many first nations in Canada have a median income below the poverty line. Understanding this, as an organization we assume that a priority, if not the priority, under the new federal accessibility legislation will be addressing the barriers within Canada’s first nation communities where people live, go to school, work, get married, have families and grow old, many of whom live with disabilities.

In December 2017 the Assembly of First Nations passed a resolution requesting the government to support the creation of a distinct first nations accessibility legislation. Since the passing of the AFN resolution, the government has stated its commitment to engaging in a nation-to-nation dialogue to determine how Bill C-81 will be applicable to Canada’s first nation communities in its entirety, portions thereof, or not at all. It is our understanding that this nation-to-nation process has not yet commenced.

The position of our organization is clear: regardless of a distinct first nations legislation or the legislation as currently proposed under Bill C-81, the Government of Canada must ensure that substantial and adequate resources are committed and ongoing to ensure that all Canada’s first nation communities have the resources necessary to address barriers facing their members living with a disability, as outlined in the principles of Bill C-81. Without this provision, a barrier-free Canada will never be achieved.

Thank you for this opportunity.

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The Chair:

Up next, from the Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec we have Monique Beaudoin, administrator, board of directors; and Camille Desforges, records manager.

[Translation]

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Mrs. Monique Beaudoin (Administrator, Board of Directors, Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec):

Good evening. The presentation will be in French.

First, I want to thank the committee for inviting the Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec, or the COPHAN, to give a presentation on Bill C-81.

To bring you up to speed, I’ll provide an explanation of the COPHAN. The COPHAN is a provincial organization that consists of about 50 members who have various types of disabilities, such as visual, auditory or motor disabilities, or who have autism or mental health issues or any other disabilities.

We have regional groups, and our members also include provincial associations and a few local organizations. The COPHAN is working on various matters related to the inclusion of individuals and their loved ones, with their families, to ensure social participation in Quebec. We’re also working with the federal government on various matters. We’re members of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, or the CCD.

I’ll let my colleague, Ms. Desforges, talk about Bill C-81, which we worked on together as a group.

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Mrs. Camille Desforges (Records Manager, Confédération des organismes de personnes handicapées du Québec):

I want to start my presentation by quoting a Quebec politician. Forty years ago, when an act for persons with disabilities was passed in Quebec, the politician stated the following:

Ideally, a fair and enlightened society shouldn’t need an act to ensure that persons with disabilities … have access to the same services as the general public. In an ideal society, this type of act would be unnecessary. However, the current situation for persons with disabilities requires us to take action.

Forty years later, we’re still making the same observation.

The common thread in our brief is the need for the government to develop a concept that we’ve coined “handi-responsibility.” It can be compared to the concept of social responsibility for sustainable development. In keeping with the “handi-responsibility” concept, the federal government should always include the disability issue in all its measures. We want to reiterate that respect for the autonomy of partners, provinces and territories and the private sector isn’t applicable when it comes to the priority of respect for human rights. For example, the government could consider implementing social inclusion provisions. When the government runs a bidding process, companies that provide accessible goods and that also demonstrate that they have a high percentage of employees with functional limitations should be favoured. The government should transition from an economic approach to a social and inclusive approach.

The federal financial leverage is a major issue that the bill doesn’t address. By leverage I mean the various federal programs and agreements that support both public and private stakeholders. In our opinion, to ensure sustainable social development, all these money transfers must be governed by the current bill, according to specific accessibility criteria. We could also extend this aspect to international relations and to all economic agreements. The scope of the legislation must also include all the money spent in the areas of activity chosen by the federal government, commonly referred to as the “spending power,” and all intergovernmental transfers.

Since we don’t know when the future legislation will be passed, let alone implemented, we believe that it would be appropriate to require the imposition of the standards of the Canadian Standards Association, or the CSA, pending the creation and launch of the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization. The CSA’s standards may not be perfect, but we think that they constitute a minimum threshold.

In addition, the updated standards of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or the WCAG, should be adopted to reach level AA on internal and external sites and mobile applications. The organization will then develop its own standards and may adjust the standards already established by the CSA and WCAG.

According to the COPHAN, the Accessibility Commissioner should report to the House of Commons. Moreover, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development position seems to be a good point of comparison in terms of its non-renewable seven-year term. A very simple petition system is also managed by the commissioner and could be a suitable approach to accessibility.

In short, our brief may be a little awkward. We weren’t able to describe all our ideas in detail. We also lack a clear understanding of the different agreements between the federal government and the provinces. However, the COPHAN is ready to work with the government.

The strong and non-negotiable point is the need to develop a “handi-responsibility” response.

Thank you.

[English]

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The Chair:

Thank you.

Now we will hear from the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance.

We’re joined by Bill Adair, executive director; and Jane Arkell, project director.

The next seven minutes are all yours.

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Ms. Jane Arkell (Project Director, Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance):

Great. Thank you very much.

First, I, too, would like to recognize that we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin.

My name is Jane Arkell. In addition to being project director of the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance, I’m also executive director of the Active Living Alliance for Canadians with a Disability. The alliance is a member organization of FALA.

I’m here with my colleague today, Bill Adair, who is executive director of Spinal Cord Injury Canada.

SCI Canada leads the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance. We are a partnership of 56 organizations that include not only disability-related organizations but other partners that represent people with disabilities in sectors such as the far north, first nations, research, employment, older adults, education, policy and youth.

We have joined together to help develop a strong and effective accessible Canada act. We have also been collaborating with other organizations doing similar work like my friend Neil, and recognize that there’s a high degree of agreement on areas of improving Bill C-81.

Thank you so much for inviting us to share the recommendations that we have.

Canada is taking a bold step forward with this proposed legislation. We’ve waited for legislation like this for a very long time. Truthfully, this gives our community hope. We are finally able to say, my Canada includes me. FALA’s position is clear. We want Bill C-81 to be strengthened by incorporating the recommendations we are providing. We want the proposed accessible Canada act to receive royal assent in this current Parliament no later than spring 2019.

I’d like to turn it over to my colleague Bill, who will go through highlights of our recommendations.

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Mr. Bill Adair (Executive Director, Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance):

Thank you, Jane.

Thank you for your attention, committee members, especially at this late hour.

I want to be clear that my comments are only highlights of the 12 detailed recommendations that can be found in the packages that have been distributed. I will walk through each of the 12 recommendations to provide a highlight of each one.

Number one, creating a culture of inclusion and equity is key to the success of the legislation. We recommend that all people employed by the federal public sector, including parliamentarians and their staff, must engage in an intensive awareness and education program. Why? This will ensure everyone understands and is able to demonstrate inclusive attitudes and equitable practices that promote access and inclusion.

Number two, change the terminology “Canadians with disabilities” to read “people in Canada with disabilities”. Why? The legislation should include landed immigrants and others who do not hold Canadian citizenship.

Number three, funding will make or break this legislation, so make it available. People with disabilities and their organizations should be properly compensated. Why? Too often, people with disabilities and organizations are asked to contribute disability expertise with no financial compensation. No other experts are asked to work for free.

Number four, an effective complaints management system must be in place to respond to and resolve complaints. Why? The system must support complainants, prevent compliance disputes between regulated agencies and departments, and ensure that complaints are resolved quickly.

Number five, indigenous peoples are not explicitly in or out of Bill C-81. Give clarity regarding first nations communities and their requirement for compliance with the accessible Canada act or under first nations-specific accessibility legislation, as requested by the Assembly of First Nations. Why? Indigenous peoples with disabilities need to know if this legislation will promote access and inclusion for them.

Number six, expand compliance with standards and regulations beyond the federal jurisdiction. The Government of Canada must promote compliance and, in some situations, require compliance from funding recipients. Why? It’s a natural extension to expect entities that receive funding from the Government of Canada to comply with the accessible Canada act.

Number seven, support people with disabilities who experience multiple barriers and intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalization. Why? Access and inclusion requires reaching the most marginalized people in our communities and workplaces. If we don’t reach the people who need this legislation the most, then we have failed.

Number eight, put people with disabilities in the fabric of the act. Ensure that the CASDO staff, board and committees include a minimum of two-thirds of people with disabilities. Why? People with disabilities need to be represented in all aspects of the legislation. This honours the principle “nothing about us without us” and provides employment opportunities.

Number nine, access to communication accommodations and supports is a cornerstone of inclusion, and it must be mandatory. Why? This change will enable people with communication disabilities and people who are deaf to fully participate in ways others take for granted.

Number 10, don’t delay. All standards and regulations should be implemented within five years. Why? Setting target dates for performance will increase tangible changes in a shorter period of time.

Number 11, the six targeted barrier areas should be changed to seven. Add communication, as it is a significant barrier for many people across a broad range of disabilities. Why? This change will bring focus to barriers, accommodations and supports for people with communication disabilities and for people who are deaf, thereby opening doors to participation.

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Number 12, ASL and LSQ are the official languages of the deaf community, so recognize this fact in the accessible Canada act. This recognition is of cultural significance to the deaf community, and it will increase full participation by people who are deaf.

In closing, our community is paying attention like we have never done so before. We are counting on you to make changes that will have a significant impact on our lives. This is a huge responsibility. We’ve opened up, we’ve advised and we’ve taken a lot of time to present the right recommendations. Listen to us. This is your opportunity to be the change.

Thank you.

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The Chair:

Thanks to all of you for your opening remarks.

We’re going to get right into questions from members.

Mr. Barlow, you have six minutes.

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Mr. John Barlow (Foothills, CPC):

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I find it nice that you’re thanking us for being here at this late hour, but honestly, thank you for taking time out of your schedules to be here and to help us get this bill through as quickly as possible. That is certainly a common theme.

The other common theme that I’ve heard from many stakeholders, including just about all of you here this evening, is the concern with the lack of timelines in the bill. We’ve talked a lot over the last few weeks on the fact that when this bill is passed through the House and given royal assent, nothing happens.

We’ve heard from stakeholders that it’s imperative that there are some sort of timelines. There aren’t even timelines for when the commissioner, compliance officer or even the CASDO board should be in place.

I know Mr. Falconer and Mr. Adair talked about that five years. Why five years? Is that something that you’ve experienced in Manitoba? Is there a reason for that number? Is that something that has been proven in the past?

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Mr. Patrick Falconer:

In Manitoba, the act commits the government to making substantial progress toward full accessibility within 10 years. We’re halfway through the five years, now. One would expect there would have been significant progress, or at least the foundation for that laid. The five years doesn’t really come from me in terms of looking at it.

Our experience in Manitoba is that the government has dragged its feet, the past government, which was an NDP government. The current government is a PC government. We’re not partisan. We’re quite happy to be critical of any of the governments for responsibility. In most cases they have been quite defensive and obstinate in terms of trying to find a way to build it up and make more progress. Our experience doesn’t provide us with great faith that government is the best stakeholder to hold Parliament to account for progress.

One of the things we’ve mentioned, and it’s mentioned by the AODA Alliance brief, is the issue of vesting final control in Parliament, not in government. Our experience has been that both governments have not been particularly forthcoming.

I can’t answer the five-year argument, but….

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Mr. John Barlow:

In that train of thought, holding Parliament to account but also holding those federally regulated businesses to account, that’s another reason those timelines are imperative.

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Mr. Patrick Falconer:

Again, we found that quick progress is important. It is game changing legislation. The longer that games go on as usual, the less likely people take it seriously that there will be a major change put in place. We certainly do encourage quick action. Exactly what the timelines for that are has not been clarified.

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Mr. John Barlow:

Another concern that has been raised is the fact that there is a two-tiered system as part of the bill. Government departments can apply for numerous exemptions, whereas federally regulated companies cannot. There are no fines or accountability on the government’s side, while there are in the private sector.

Ms. Bountrogianni, have you been through this? Can you comment on how important the message should be that everyone be treated equally? For Canadians with disabilities, if we’re going to enact this—you’ve all said how historic this could be if we do it right—how important is that message that everybody be treated equally?

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Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

I would agree that it is very important.

If I may for a second, we gave the longer timeline because business wanted that timeline. They said that as a business they reinvent themselves anyway every few years; otherwise, they won’t stay in business. But it’s difficult, particularly during recessions, etc., and we don’t want to lay people off. They gave us some good arguments.

We did have standards to be developed every five years or less, and we had timelines for standards development.

A very important part of the bill was compliance and enforcement, but because we did not—and I was part of that government so I will take the blame as well—do a good enough job on publicly educating people, it would be unfair to fine someone if they don’t know what they’re supposed to be doing. That is why I emphasized that a public education budget and support for those processes are very important. Learn from our challenges and mistakes.

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Mr. John Barlow:

Yes, for sure.

What would be an ideal timeline to have the commissioner in place, the officer in place and the CASDO board in place, at the very least?

Anybody can comment on that. I think that would be a first start, which isn’t included in the bill, either.

Mr. Adair, you threw out that five-year timeline. Maybe you could comment on that.

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Mr. Bill Adair:

Thank you.

On the five-year timeline, just to mention that before I move to your next question, there is a sense of impatience and there is a sense of urgency for changes to be made. Five years for creating the standards and regulations, and maybe another 18 months for full implementation, is part of the detail in the recommendations that we have put forward.

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The Chair:

Excellent. Thank you very much.

MP Hogg, you have six minutes, please.

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Mr. Gordie Hogg (South Surrey—White Rock, Lib.):

Thank you.

Thank you, again, to the witnesses. The witnesses this evening and the witnesses who have come before us have talked about a sense of excitement, a sense of opportunity, a sense of urgency and a sense of caution, so we have covered pretty much all of the emotions and the frames that exist there.

Following up on MP Barlow’s comments, I think there are three things we’ve heard consistently. One is on the issue of timelines for implementation, what those should be and how they would be handled. There are the issues of enforcement, transitions, exemptions, accountability, and the reporting process—whether it should be a singular reporting process or whether CASDO should be a singular or if rather we should we have CTA and others involved in that to try to cut down on the amount of confusion that might exist. As well as whether it should ultimately be reporting to the House of Commons and, therefore, be an executive, or a member of the House who reports to the House.

Those, I think, are the three issues that we have continued to hear.

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Just with respect to being able to learn, I understand that all cultures are slightly different, but there are some commonalities that exist within the context of government.

You talked about the education process. It seems to me that it’s a culture we’re trying to change. Ultimately, with our set of values, we’re trying to have reflected within the preamble, within the goals and expectations, and I don’t think the values are explicit but they’re inherent within that. Perhaps they should be more explicit. I’m not sure about that.

In terms of your experience with the education process, you talked a little bit about that, but I’m wondering more about the didactic, specific part of that. How do you interpret that into a cultural change rather than a cognitive change?

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Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

I think a cultural change and a cognitive change go hand in hand. It’s very hard to sit in a classroom, for example, and teach these things abstractly. You have to live them.

For example, for the project I referenced on creating programs and technology for people with disabilities by people with disabilities, we hired a gentleman with a visual impairment to run that program. He was actually legally blind. We’ve also hired people with mental health issues in our school. Quite frankly, the biggest obstacle sometimes is HR departments or unions with their rules. As much as they want to support who they represent, sometimes they don’t want others to get the job without going through the proper process. There are a lot of barriers.

Culturally, I think we’re almost there. I think Canadians are really good people. I’ve travelled the world talking about this, and we are ahead of many cultures. Not all, but we are ahead of many cultures. We have to do it in a way that doesn’t threaten the bottom line of a business. People with disabilities don’t want businesses to close. They just want access to those businesses. There has to be dialogue at the table of standards development.

Mr. Adair and I were in Ontario together. We had people with disabilities, people from the government and people from businesses at each one of these tables. At least until a few months ago, that’s the way development was. Where we are lacking in Ontario is a greater public education strategy. We have isolated parts of excellence—for example, the Pan Am Games, the Invictus Games and some of the hiring practices within the public sector in particular.

We’re beginning to see a change. I see the change even in my children, who are millennials, when they are talking about their friends with mental health illnesses and talking about the medication as if it’s taking an Aspirin: “Oh, he forgot his clonazepam and we had to go back and get it before we went to the party.” These are things my generation would never admit to doing, or even knowing people like that.

We’ve come a long way, but government can certainly do more. I was disappointed that we didn’t do more. I remember in 2011 there were are few commercials on TV and on the radio, and that was basically it. There were communications right to the organizations, but not as much to the general public.

I think we each have a responsibility. It’s not just up to government. That is why we’re trying to walk the talk at Ryerson University. We have a very strong equity, diversity and inclusion department that we’ve grown in the last few years. However, we have also not hired an indigenous professor in the last three years. We haven’t, even though it’s in our plan to do so. Even well-intentioned—

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

The only reason I’m interrupting you is because they tell me I only have 30 seconds, and I want to go over to my new buddy Patrick here, quickly.

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

I’m sorry, sir.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

About the notion of a no-compliance framework and the issues of a framework around that…. We’ve talked about the principles of progressive realization. With deadlines…. Clearly the experience is that we’re not able to meet some of those deadlines. How do we put deadlines in, and then allow for compliance around that and the notion of progressive realization, which is that, as we have changes happening technologically and in terms of realization in the culture, we’re able to modify and change, so we don’t have to go back and do the legislation again. It can be evolving.

The minister said she wanted things to happen quickly. She said we have to start now and make that principle…. Put the stake in the ground and then build from there. How do you see that happening?

(1940)

[Expand]

The Chair:

Please give a very brief answer. We’re over time.

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

I’m not sure I can answer the question. Perhaps I can try to rephrase some of it.

The issue of education becomes vitally important. Our view is that most people—and the vast majority of businesses—want to do what’s right. In most cases, they don’t know about disabilities. It’s something they’re not familiar with. They don’t know how to do things.

The standards provide clarity as to how rights that have already been enshrined in the charter and the human rights codes can be actively put in place. Knowing about that…. Back to the Manitoba example, there’s a compliance deadline for the customer service standard, which is the first one they did in Ontario, in the educational standard. How do you provide dignified quality of service to persons with disabilities? What a great idea. It’s a great starting point. Recognizing that—

I’ll just finish in 30 seconds, at most.

[Expand]

The Chair:

We’ll have to come back, I’m afraid. Sorry.

We have to—

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

Ten seconds…?

[Expand]

The Chair:

You have 10 seconds. Go.

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

In Manitoba, the deadline for 35,000 organizations was November 1, 2018. That’s a month from now. Our province starting promoting it, awareness and tools, in September, two months ago.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you.

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

That’s not the way to build compliance.

[Expand]

The Chair:

MP Hardcastle, go ahead, please.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle (Windsor—Tecumseh, NDP):

Thank you very much.

It is true that we have recurring themes, so I’m going to try to use my time to talk about things that are a bit different and intriguing.

First, I just want to see if there’s a quick comment about what my colleague mentioned: progressive realization. That’s a legal term used in UN treaties for coming into effect. We can very well put timelines in and understand that they are progressive. I just wanted to clarify that, because I think sometimes the term is being used colloquially here, and we do have legal examples of how this is done in treaty language.

Having said that, what I’d like to hear, now that all of us have heard each other’s comments, is more with regard to how we can be maximizing or leveraging existing regulatory frameworks. I think it was Ms. Desforges who mentioned using the Canada Standards Association. We also heard very briefly from the Public Service Alliance about components of the Employment Equity Act. I wonder if anyone else, from their experience now, can see opportunities where we should be using some clarity so that we can be leveraging existing regulatory frameworks.

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

One of the beauties of where we are in Canada now is that this is not a national development. This is an international development, so there are frameworks we can learn from. The European Union has been doing a lot of work on accessibility. I think we can pick the best and the ones that are most suitable for Canada. I think there are extensive frameworks available. Finding ones that are most applicable to Canada that are leading edge requires research, but I think we’re not starting from ground zero. We’re looking at building on success and challenges elsewhere.

[Expand]

Mr. Bill Adair:

Just to add to that, the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance created two sets of recommendations, one for Bill C-81 and one for the implementation of the act once it becomes law.

One of our recommendations deals with this very issue around digital and website access. There is, cited in that European Union standard around website design, something to look at. Our thinking is that there are standards that can be looked at even before CASDO is created, and if the standards are deemed to be acceptable, let’s start implementing them right away. We don’t necessarily need to wait. We definitely want to move on setting up a system that will monitor and manage everything, but if there are some easy and quick wins that we could undertake right away, wouldn’t that be delightful?

One of our partners from Barrier-Free Canada, from the national level of that organization, works with the CRA and provided very clear recommendations on access to websites, information technology and so on.

(1945)

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thank you.

I’d like to also hear a little more opinion, maybe, Ms. Beaudoin or Ms. Desforges, about whether you think it is good for us to find ways to articulate in the legislation more than just how the board is comprised—two-thirds persons with disabilities. Mr. Adair mentioned stipulating staff and other supporting roles surrounding the board.

What do you think of that?

[Translation]

[Expand]

Mrs. Camille Desforges:

We talked about it in our brief. I simply didn’t have the time to mention it in my presentation.

With regard to the CASDO, the majority or at least 51% of the board of directors and executive board must be composed of persons with disabilities. We spoke earlier about more than two thirds. This will need to be determined, but there should be a majority of persons with functional limitations.

Of course, everyone also wants to contribute, but there should be protected positions for the representation of Quebec and a real commitment to ensuring that all functional limitations are represented.

As is the case this evening, there should be a principle of transparency. All meetings should be filmed and the documents should be available to the public, so that people can really get their hands on the CASDO’s work and that everyone, ultimately, has access to the work.

I don’t know whether this answers your question.

[Expand]

Mrs. Monique Beaudoin:

I want to add something.

I attended a meeting with the Canadian Transportation Agency in early October. The CSA was discussed. A number of persons with disabilities indicated that they wanted to be involved and consulted during the establishment of the new standards.

In the COPHAN’s brief and in other briefs, we stated that we want to be part of committees and commissions. We spoke earlier about the majority, or 51%. However, as a board member, I much prefer the idea that two thirds of the members be persons with disabilities, in order to include them and give them the chance to participate. I think that it’s important. In my view, the more persons with disabilities work and get involved as members of the board of directors, the more the right to accessibility will have credibility in projects across the country.

[English]

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

Mr. Morrissey.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey (Egmont, Lib.):

Thank you, Chair. My questions are to Madam Dean.

Given your experience with the Ontario government, you referenced that you did seek out or look at legislation in various countries. You referenced a number of countries. It may not be a fair question. From your recollection, how does this legislation, as it’s currently drafted, compare to initiatives taken in jurisdictions that you examined?

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

When I studied those jurisdictions, they were not as evolved as they are today. If you compare those jurisdictions today, they may actually be an improvement on this legislation.

When I was studying them, it was from their challenges. I don’t want to use the word “mistakes” because they were pioneers. They were Great Britain, Australia and the United States. They told me, “Have a timeline, definitely have timelines.”

In the United States, I basically modelled what we did with the Environmental Protection Agency. The Americans were developing their standards with a long timeline, about every five years or less. We used a different area to model our legislation. Actually, this legislation, when enforced, would also include businesses, albeit only federally regulated businesses. It is an improvement on many jurisdictions around the world. Ontario is trying to enforce this for all businesses not just regulated by the provincial government, which is part of the challenge. We’re trying to do more than what this bill is doing in Ontario.

It depends on which jurisdiction you’re looking at, and what year you’re looking at. Compared with back in 2005, this bill is ahead, but now I know some of those jurisdiction have improved.

(1950)

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Thank you. I want members of the panel here to comment.

The legislation takes an access approach in its legislative intent, more so than a discriminatory approach. Do you feel that’s the right approach or emphasis as the bill goes forward? The focus should be primarily on providing access, would you agree?

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question. As opposed to…?

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Access—the bill will be tested on ensuring access for people with disabilities, rather than an emphasis on…. Some legislation under the charter is on rights. There’s a focus on rights versus access.

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

From my experience, focusing on access is more concrete, and therefore has implementability. We have a lot of human rights. I have one right here. I was going to cite the UN convention on human rights, yet we’re so lacking internationally to follow those human rights.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Is it the right approach to begin with?

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

This is the right approach. Again, I’m an educational psychologist by training, and sometimes you have to be specific, concrete with deadlines and expectations.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

I’d like to hear from Mr. Falconer.

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

I’m sorry, I’m a former politician, so I talk too much.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

That’s fine.

Then I’ll hear probably from Madame Desforges.

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

I concur with Marie. The right is to equitable access. That’s really what the right is. In Manitoba, 41% of all complaints to the human rights commission are related to disability discrimination. All of them have their roots in a lack of equitable access.

I think access is, then, the issue. It can be phrased as a human right, but it’s concrete, it’s real, it’s what the issue is. I think, therefore, that the focus on access is entirely proper and effective.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Madame Desforges.

[Translation]

[Expand]

Mrs. Camille Desforges:

I won’t comment on that, but I want to point out that Quebec has legislation that specifically concerns persons with disabilities. We remain very cautious, since the legislation will really address the barriers. We don’t really know what differences this will create between the two pieces of legislation. In any event, we remain very cautious, since we can’t establish comparisons with Quebec legislation.

[English]

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Mr. Chair, are we getting a second round?

[Expand]

The Chair:

You more than likely will, yes.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Then if I only have one minute…. I thank you for your candidness and your in some cases blunt description of where the bill is inadequate. That’s what the committee is here for.

I don’t believe that any of your groups has had the opportunity to appear before a parliamentary committee in the past to discuss a bill such as this. Would I be correct in that? We’ve heard a bit about there being no deadline to make Canada fully accessible. Should the goal be to always strive to achieve a more accessible Canada or to achieve a static accessibility goal?

I’ll put this probably to Mr. Falconer and Mr. Adair.

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

We dealt with the issue. There’s a view that the understanding of disability and accessibility evolves through time. You will never be at 100%, never.

Instrumentally and aspirationally, does it help to have a goal to which you get 95% of the way? I am firmly convinced that it does. One has to be careful that one does not drink the Kool-Aid and say, “This is 100%, and don’t worry. There’ll be no problems.” The reality of having a goal you can get nearly to, however, and of having a timeline attached to it would, I think, strongly reinforce the bill’s effectiveness.

(1955)

[Expand]

The Chair:

I am afraid I’m going to have to cut in. One of your colleagues may share some time here.

We’ll have Mr. Ruimy, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, Lib.):

Oh, I don’t share well.

Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

Mr. Dan Ruimy: Maybe I will. I’ll see.

Thank you all very much for coming in and making your presentations.

I want to start with Marie. I’m not sure I heard you correctly in your presentation. Did you say that the Ontario government put a freeze on the AODA?

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

When Premier Ford was first elected, basically there was a freeze on many things, and there was a freeze on the meetings for the standards development. These standards development committees had been meeting since the AODA became law in 2005. Now, however, they have unfrozen, so they are beginning to work on one of the standards.

His office did reach out and did want to talk to me, so I’m very hopeful.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

You’re hopeful that…?

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

I’m hopeful that the standards development will continue as planned and perhaps become even better, because Minister Cho is also the minister for seniors, and if we’re lucky enough to get old, we’ll all have a disability. I think putting this together with disabilities was a good move on Premier Ford’s….

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I’m just finding it interesting that the provincial government froze, that they had the ability to say they were going to stop all that right now. I find that a little disconcerting.

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

You have to consider that they did that for everything. Everything was frozen. Actually, the standards development committees have been re-enacted now and many other things are still frozen, so I’m feeling pretty optimistic that this is a priority for this government.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Okay. Thank you.

Mr. Falconer, you were very strong in your words about this having been a failure. Could you give us a bit more of the timeline for when this all started and tell us whether anything has been accomplished, or is it because it’s a failure…? Sometimes, when we put a timeline on something and we don’t hit that timeline, it’s a failure. That’s the way some people look at it.

Have we made progress? Can you take us through that?

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

I don’t think I used the word “failure”. I’ll look through my notes. I think I said “disappointment” and disappointment is perhaps a subtle, nuanced difference from “failure”. I don’t think it’s a failure. I think a lot of good things have happened.

Expectations were real. The commitments made by all parties…. I don’t say that this was done as a feel-good exercise. Everyone wanted to get stuff done. The reality today is that disabilities have not been among the top government priorities for a long time. The reason for that, among others, is that the disability community is not well resourced. It’s not like labour. It’s not like business. It doesn’t have champions and advocates. It doesn’t have lobbyists. It doesn’t have that kind of power, so there’s a natural tendency for people to say, “Let’s do what’s right,” and then, once the pressure is off, “Maybe we could find a way to act on other priorities before we act on this priority that we made commitments to.”

I don’t think the word is “failure”. I think we have had clear and unequivocal commitments made. Those commitments have not been met. There is movement towards them. Every time that happens, we provide commendation and support but the reality is that it’s moving much slower than was contemplated when the act was passed in 2013.

Part of that is back to the issue of enabling language—a lot of “cans” and very few “shalls”. How can a government choose to move back when it is setting up committees? There’s no requirement that they do this. It’s “they can do this”. When you have that kind of latitude, when it’s not a high priority, sometimes you don’t follow through on what you have promised to do and what you know is the right thing to do.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

You said that there was a 10-year timeline implemented.

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

This was not our suggestion, but yes there was.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

You have a 10-year timeline. You’re at the halfway point.

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

We’re at the halfway point of that.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

If you were to gauge where you are in relation to achieving your 10-year targets, where would you say you are?

(2000)

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

If I had to give a number, I’d say 20%.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I guess it comes to this: Are you seeing momentum? Once you start to get that cultural change, which Marie was talking about, then things start to pick up. When we look at our federally regulated agencies, such as airports, what we heard from a lot of those agencies is that they’re way ahead of the ball game in relation to certain standards because they’ve taken it upon themselves.

I’m trying to understand why there’s a difference. Is it a financial thing? Is it the mindset that because there was a 10-year time limit, people think we have time to get there?

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

I say this advisedly. Again, I didn’t use the word “failure”. I think champions are really important and I hope that all of you will be champions of this bill as it goes to third reading.

Marie was the champion in Ontario. We had a champion in the minister who introduced the bill. There were leadership difficulties within the NDP. She left cabinet and the leadership from the government of the time, the NDP government, was lost. I don’t think we have a champion in our current government who is pushing this. The idea of having a real champion….

The other issue is that we’ve had a change in administration from the Liberal Party of 20 years to another party, 15 years, that might be less ideologically disposed towards regulation. Similarly, in Manitoba we went from an NDP government to a PC government, so the issue of having legislation that is durable, impactful and strong across governments becomes critical. That’s the issue of having prescriptive—not enabling—language and timelines that last beyond current governments.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

MP Falk, please.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster, CPC):

Thank you all for being here today.

I want to follow up on MP Ruimy’s statement about the recent situation in Ontario, having things frozen and that type of thing. Were the standards frozen?

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

The committees that were developing standards were told not to meet yet. It wasn’t for very long. The freeze wasn’t for very long.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

My question is how long these standards have been in development.

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

It’s been 15 years.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Fifteen years…?

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

Well, it’s 13 years.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

That seems like a long time.

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

There are quite a few standards. It does take a long time and there are a lot of people around the table. Yes, there is some frustration about how long it’s taking, absolutely, but they are being developed.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Okay. Thank you.

My next question is for you, Neil. I want to pick your brain a bit. Was your organization consulted prior to this bill being drafted?

[Expand]

Mr. Neil Belanger:

Yes. For the last two years we’ve worked in contacting first nations across Canada. We were part of many meetings with the ministers who’ve held the portfolio. We’ve given our recommendations quite a bit and have worked with the Assembly of First Nations, as I said. We have been involved.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I can’t remember if it was you or Mr. Adair who talked about having indigenous peoples mentioned in the bill.

You both did? Okay.

They are not mentioned, from what I understand. How would you like to see this put in the bill?

[Expand]

Mr. Neil Belanger:

We would like to make sure that first nations are covered under the bill or under the distinct first nations legislation that the AFN has requested from the government. We don’t have any indication from the government on how this will be. Through our meetings with them, as I indicated, they said they were going to engage in a nation-to-nation consultation process to see at what level the legislation would be applicable, if at all. Our fear, of course, is that it will not be applicable and things will not change.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Were you given a timeline of when these discussions would happen?

[Expand]

Mr. Neil Belanger:

Tentative—but they change. I spoke to the AFN today as well, and there has been no movement yet. The AFN is willing to work with government and is looking forward to the process. I understand there are different levels of bureaucracy that the government has to go through, but we’re getting pretty late in the process now. The future is not clear, and I think that clarity is needed.

(2005)

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Mr. Adair, did you have anything to add to that? No. Okay.

[Expand]

Mr. Bill Adair:

He’s my teacher.

Voices: Oh, oh!

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Perfect.

I’ve heard a lot about public education. I’m just wondering what would be sufficient, or what would look like a good head start. I know this is a different topic, but even with the legalization of marijuana, I expected there would be more public education before it happened and was rolled out, and there wasn’t.

What would be sufficient for this bill in regard to public education?

[Expand]

Mr. Bill Adair:

I can start.

Public education is an area of recommendation that the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance put forward as well. This is representing 56 organizations across the country. One of the things we’re calling for is a change in attitudes. How do you change attitudes? There’s a body of knowledge around what works and what does not work, and this body of knowledge needs to be applied in terms of the public education as well as the education of employers and the people who are responsible for implementing standards and regulations.

One of the best ways to change attitudes is to provide an opportunity where people work together, either voluntarily or on a work assignment, in an employment situation. A disabled person and a non-disabled person get to know each other and the barriers disappear. They just become people. That is one of the foundations for why we’re arguing for two-thirds representation in the staff, in the committees and on the boards. Rubbing shoulders actually translates into changing attitudes.

As to how we do that with the general public, it’s a challenge, but it can be achieved. It’s a matter of having smart people work on it.

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

I can speak from the post-secondary education point of view about having people with disabilities be the professors teaching these topics—teaching any topic, quite frankly, but particularly teaching these topics. That’s what we are doing, and it’s incredibly enlightening for the adult students.

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

There are always learning opportunities.

When the first AMA was being passed in Manitoba, there was a standing committee like this. It was an earlier bill. We knew many people were coming who were going to require accommodation supports or communication accommodations. I spoke to the clerk at the legislative assembly and asked if these things were being arranged. The person said, without missing a beat that they didn’t have those fancy things there.

That was a moment for me to be able to say that participation in the democratic process is a right of citizenship, and this is not a fancy thing. That person will never say that again. It wasn’t a rebuke. I was just saying that they had to think this through differently. I think those learning opportunities become really important.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you.

We’ll go back to MP Ruimy, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Mr. Falconer, when we’re trying to understand where we’ve been trying to go…. I’ll correct the record, you didn’t say “failure”. I understood something differently, but you said there was great disappointment with the 10-year timeline. You mentioned that you felt part of the reason was that there wasn’t a champion for that. Governments will come and go. Maybe you get one champion, but then when the next government comes along, you don’t have a champion.

Would you say that creating a framework with CASDO…? Would you see them as the champion because they’re the ones creating that framework, putting things in place?

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

I think they can be a more effective champion if they report to Parliament than to the government. That would be one area regarding some independence.

I would have dismissed some of the discussions regarding having timelines and having language that required action. Ten years ago I would have said we didn’t need those kinds of things, but the reality is that we are now much more able to advocate for government to fulfill its obligations, when we have real obligations for them to fulfill, than when it’s a matter of being permissive and saying we’re doing the best we can and we’re making progress. It’s better now than it was five years ago. To have hard deliverables gives us the opportunity as a community to be able to say this is what was promised, this is what’s required and they need us to be making stronger efforts.

I also think allowing the community to be a champion is important, and part of that is by having requirements and timelines.

(2010)

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Coming to timelines, listening to some of the testimony…. When we’re talking federally built infrastructure, and we look at a lot of the banks and the federally regulated infrastructure, a lot of them are already up to date with ramps and so on.

We heard from the banking system. Royal Bank already has the technology where you can go to a machine and it will talk to you, but then we started hearing about a whole different range. When we’re talking about disability, we’re no longer just talking about somebody in a wheelchair or somebody who is physically disabled, but who has speech, hearing and vision impairments. Technology is changing so rapidly, the fear is that putting something on a hard timeline will take away from innovation.

Again, looking at some of the federally regulated departments, a lot of them are on the cutting edge, such as airports. For example, at Vancouver International Airport, I was coming back from a trip and I saw about 20 people in wheelchairs wandering around. I asked them what they were doing and I found out they were employees. They were going through their training, which is fantastic, but you’re not mandating that. Somebody said they needed to figure out this part. They needed to be able to think like their customers who are coming in and how they are accessing services there. That wasn’t mandated. That wasn’t legislated. That is going beyond.

How do we capture that, but not put that in the legislation? Because you’ll never get that in legislation, I don’t think.

Marie.

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

I can talk about the AODA. The standards are reviewed and updated every few years. It’s not just the customers who are coming in; it’s also employees, as you mentioned. Through lack of education, some people may not know the real cost of accommodating an employee, but the average cost is only $500. It’s not very expensive to have an accommodation for someone with a disability to work anywhere. Of course, some are more and some are less, but a $500 average isn’t very much. What that does to the education and the culture of the rest of the office, or wherever they’re working, is an incredible gain.

The employment standard review is now unfrozen, so we’ll get on with it, but it’s a 2011 standard. If there are innovations, and there certainly have been innovations every day in technology, they can be addressed through the reviews.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I agree. It’s a matter of what those timelines are based on.

I’m going to share the rest of my time with Mr. Harvey.

[Expand]

The Chair:

That’s less than a minute. It’s very generous of you.

We will likely have time for an additional mini-round, so Mr. Harvey, do you have a brief question or maybe Bobby has a follow-up one?

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Yes. I’d like Mr. Adair to speak about what we got cut off on earlier.

[Expand]

Mr. Bill Adair:

Remind me.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

If you’ve slipped a bit….

[Expand]

Mr. Bill Adair:

I think it was about—

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

It was about accessibility versus rights, but I’ll leave that because—

[Expand]

Mr. Bill Adair:

Yes, I can speak to that.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Be very brief.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Be brief, because I have two questions.

[Expand]

Mr. Bill Adair:

Access and inclusion are really vital. That’s where it’s at, so I would add inclusion to the work that’s under way with the act. The access and the inclusion open all kinds of possibilities.

(2015)

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Okay.

[Expand]

The Chair:

MP Diotte, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte (Edmonton Griesbach, CPC):

This is to Mr. Belanger. You said that Bill C-81 will impact first nations substantially, so substantial resources must be allotted to the first nations. Can you give me any idea of what that looks like? Do you have a dollar figure?

[Expand]

Mr. Neil Belanger:

I don’t but it will be significant, I would imagine.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

What is significant? What does it look like, then? What kinds of resources, at least?

[Expand]

Mr. Neil Belanger:

I would say that the majority of the resources that will be necessary are to the built environment, the physical environment when it comes to roads, housing, accessible buildings and that type of thing, and then a review of the policies. It will be millions upon millions of dollars to look at all communities in Canada.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Are you especially concerned about northern communities, isolated communities?

[Expand]

Mr. Neil Belanger:

All communities…. Some communities will be very accessible, and some will not, but a review of all communities would be necessary. Northern communities, isolated communities, will certainly have some of the higher rates of inaccessible buildings, infrastructure, housing, roads and that type of thing, but we’ve worked in urban communities where accessibility is a huge problem as well. It takes a committed effort from the government to actually work with these communities individually and to look at their issues. It’s going to be a significant amount of money to be successful in Canada.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Do you think any of this should go forward before we can review what’s needed?

[Expand]

Mr. Neil Belanger:

Absolutely, the legislation should go forward, but there has to be the first nations component as well, and the government needs to work with the AFN and first nation communities to ensure that their voices are heard, and not only the leadership but those individuals living with disabilities in those communities. They have to bring their voices to the table as well. As I said, we would have hoped this would have been farther along, but as long as it’s going to progress, that’s the key thing.

If for some reason first nations were now exempt from the legislation or had a distinct first nation legislation, in the opinion of our organization, that would be a huge mistake.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Okay. Thank you.

This is to Ms. Desforges.

You talked about needing a clause on social integration—I’m just reading my handwriting here—and companies need to be awarded or rewarded for inclusion. What does that look like in your mind?

[Translation]

[Expand]

Mrs. Camille Desforges:

I gave the example of the creation of provisions on social inclusion. It should benefit companies that provide accessible goods and services. However, it should also go even further by benefiting companies that employ persons with disabilities.

Our brief emphasized the fact that the government should develop a sense of responsibility toward persons with disabilities. We believe that, in all its initiatives, the government should fulfill this responsibility. This is one of many examples, but let’s say that, when it comes to any federal, public, private or provincial funding, the responsibility should be implemented. That’s what I was talking about.

I don’t know whether I’m answering your question.

[English]

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Partially…. Are you saying, for instance, that there should be a mandated number of disabled people hired at these companies?

[Translation]

[Expand]

Mrs. Camille Desforges:

I’m referring more to a situation where a bidding process involves two equivalent companies. In this case, the company that employs persons with disabilities should be favoured. That’s what I was talking about.

[English]

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Mr. Falconer, I just jotted down some words: “convoluted” bill, “more chasing of tails“, “the bill is deeply flawed”. You used words such as “shocking”.

What do we have to do?

(2020)

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

We strongly support the AODA Alliance and ARCH recommendations. There are 97 recommendations made by the AODA Alliance in their draft. The AODA Alliance and ARCH are really skilled assessors of legislation and what they have to offer is tremendously important.

Of those recommendations, if I had to give you seven that are really important, among them would be the issue of looking at timelines and a grand goal, the idea of ensuring that the government has a duty to enact and it is not permissive language, and the idea of consolidating power in one structure rather than distributed between the CRTC and the CTA and trying to have a maze. I think of Occam’s razor, the issue of making things simple rather than complex. It’s a 103-page bill, probably the greatest definition of an inaccessible bill that I’ve seen for a long time.

The idea of making sure that there is oversight independent of government is probably very important, and also the idea of speeding up requirements for reviews. There is a review that will happen five years after the first regulation, but it should be five years after it’s enacted so that you have that type of regulation.

The idea of looking at addressing the needs and rights of indigenous peoples is critical. In terms of how that happens and with what timelines, it can’t be an afterthought. It has to be a forethought.

Also important is the idea of ensuring that it’s clear that the strongest accessibility law prevails. It doesn’t say that in the bill right now.

The idea of requiring that no public money be used, and the fact that this will perpetuate, exacerbate or create new barriers, is very important as well.

If I were to look at the ones among the 97 recommendations made by the alliance that I think are critically important, I would probably highlight those.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Thanks very much.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

We’ll have MP Hardcastle, please, for three minutes.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thank you. This is really intriguing.

I’d like to hear all of you comment a little more. We’re going to be going through clause-by-clause and doing amendments, and I don’t know if everyone on our committee grasps these. Just picture how you’re helping us advocate for certain amendments.

Moving from language that is permissive or enabling to language that is prescriptive is something that I’m concerned about. Right now, there is in the accessibility act the need or the requirement that everybody have an implementation plan, but there’s no requirement that you implement your implementation plan.

That’s an example. Just as Mr. Falconer has given us some low-hanging fruit, I wonder if any of you have some observations in relation to that.

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

I would just simply agree that compliance and enforcement have to be important aspects of the bill.

I do know that tomorrow morning you’ll be hearing from David Lepofsky, who was a major force in the AODA development. I saw some of his notes and I think his brief will guide you even more specifically.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Does anybody else wish to comment?

One of the other things mentioned in terms of implementation and enforcement is this idea of fragmentation. You know right now we are going to have an accessibility commissioner who is mandated to oversee all of the accessibility plan requirements, but we also have the Canadian Transportation Agency and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission that will be in charge of themselves.

Do any of you see that as problematic? Should we make the accessibility commissioner solely responsible, or do you think this is a good way to go? Could I get some observations, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

I’d be happy to speak on that.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

If we can let Ms. Beaudoin….

[Translation]

[Expand]

Mrs. Monique Beaudoin:

In the bill, many things are inconsistent and act as barriers to the submission of complaints. For example, we would need to go through agencies. One recommendation was that the complaints be filed directly with the Accessibility Commissioner, since standards may vary from agency to agency. In addition, the submission of a complaint can be a long process. The goal is to simplify the process, and I fully agree with this goal.

Regarding accessibility plans, Quebec has the Office des personnes handicapées. This agency strongly encourages action plans developed by departments or by municipalities with a population of over 15,000. However, these plans aren’t going anywhere. They don’t have teeth and there are few follow-ups. The agency monitors the implementation of the legislation, but that’s all. It hardly ever works with the associations anymore.

I’m very concerned about these accessibility plans. Who will be affected? Who will be responsible for developing them? I think that it’s a bad idea. Maybe something else should be considered.

I want to take this opportunity to say that initiatives are being launched in the communities and that we should take about these initiatives. I say that persons with disabilities should be consulted. Let’s work with persons with disabilities, the users.

The federal government has invested billions of dollars into housing infrastructure, for example. However, could it also promote accessible housing in all the provinces? The population is aging, and more and more people are looking for housing. When I talk about accessible housing, I’m also talking about the cost of the housing. That’s another aspect that must be addressed.

In other infrastructure bills, let’s immediately consider accessibility.

Thank you.

(2025)

[English]

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you.

That takes us to the end of two rounds. We have enough remaining time that we can do a bit of a mini-round, maybe five minutes per member, if everyone is okay with that.

Who would like to go?

Go ahead, Mr. Barlow.

[Expand]

Mr. John Barlow:

Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.

Thanks to everybody for hanging in.

Mr. Belanger, this is not a question that I was planning on asking, but it came up from your testimony.

You were consulted for two years on this bill. You’ve addressed that there are significant issues that will impact first nations, in perhaps millions of dollars, yet those issues are not even mentioned anywhere in this bill. What are your thoughts on the consultation with first nations and how it’s included in Bill C-81?

[Expand]

Mr. Neil Belanger:

With regard to the consultation process, the government contracted with the Assembly of First Nations. They contracted with us, with the national Native Women’s Association of Canada. Consultations were done.

[Expand]

Mr. John Barlow:

There’s nothing included in the bill.

[Expand]

Mr. Neil Belanger:

They’re not there—and when I say millions, I’m talking many hundreds of millions, not just millions in the tens.

How do I feel about that? I think that if the government is going to be true to their commitment to do a nation-to-nation consultation, then that’s going to be a good thing.

On how that unfolds and how committees are participating, there are 634 communities. How the government is going to engage them is going to be an indicator of how legitimate the government’s priority for first nations in Canada is when it comes to this legislation. We have to see how it goes from here.

[Expand]

Mr. John Barlow:

Thank you.

There’s another question that hasn’t come up today, and I appreciate everybody’s comments on the fact that timelines…. The minister said that the reason they don’t have timelines in there on standards is that the standards are going to change as we go.

I love the fact that you’ve said, absolutely, that’s the case, but if you don’t have somewhere to start, you can’t get any accountability there.

The other one was that the minister mentioned that any of the fines or anything from those would be going into general revenue. Our feeling is that there should be an amendment in there that those fines would go to some sort of fund for accessibility programs. Is that something that you would support?

I would like a quick answer maybe from everyone.

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

I’d like to say yes, but I’ve been in politics and we don’t want that to be it. In other words, “You have this fund, now go away; this is enough.” Things happen in politics, as you all probably know better than I do now. I would say it’s not a bad idea, but let’s be careful that doesn’t end up being the only fund.

(2030)

[Expand]

Mr. John Barlow:

I’ll split my time with Ms. Falk.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Do you have something? Do you want to follow up?

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

I was just going to concur. Were there enough fines this year to be able to enable something that is adequate?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Sure.

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

It doesn’t seem to be the test of adequacy.

I think the idea of it being used for special purposes, assuming that there are enough resources in the absence of that, is a very good idea.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I want to touch on indigenous peoples again. I know you mentioned in your opening remarks advocating for two-thirds representation on CASDO but also having indigenous people represented. Is there a specific number that you or your organization would like to see represented on the board?

[Expand]

Mr. Neil Belanger:

We haven’t gotten into that detail. I think there are 11 positions on the board. Is that correct?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Could be.

[Expand]

Mr. Neil Belanger:

I believe it is 11. We would expect that one of those positions, at least one, would be designated for an indigenous person living with a disability, and then that they’d have representation on the committees as well. How many that would be, and from the committees, I’m not sure.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I have one quick question. In the past couple of days, I’ve heard a lot about plain language for people with intellectual disabilities. If you can quickly make remarks, is that reflected in legislation that’s already out there provincially? Is plain language reflected in that?

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

I would say no, it’s not.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Okay.

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

There’s the summary that’s a bit helpful, but I don’t think it meets the test of plain language.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

What about in Quebec? No…?

[Expand]

Mr. Bill Adair:

If I could just add to that, plain language is a form of access and a way of including people.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Right.

[Expand]

Mr. Bill Adair:

It’s something that is required. Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance did work with one of of our partners, People First of Canada, and wrote a plain language version interpretation or explanation of Bill C-81. It was tested with consumers who would read it for reliability, and that’s the kind of work that needs to be done in promoting awareness of the act as well as in educating people about the rights they have, people with disabilities, the rights that they have once the act becomes law.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Chair:

MP Morrissey, please, you have five minutes.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Thank you, Chair.

I believe I’m sharing my time with my colleague.

There’s been a lot of focus on the cost of implementing the bill. If those investments are made, what is the economic gain to people with disabilities? Could you just answer quickly?

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

That was one of the factors that allowed the AODA in Ontario to be passed unanimously, because the official opposition, the Conservatives, were concerned about price. We showed them the research from jurisdictions that have much more accessibility, the United States being one. The tax revenues increased by the billions in the United States simply by making hotels and restaurants accessible to people. Just those two things, just those two types of accessibility, brought billions in extra revenues.

Yes, it is a cost. The businesses, big and small, told me that they have to update, anyway, every five or 10 years to keep their businesses viable. As long as they had time, they were able to absorb the costs.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

What’s the economic gain to the disabled person?

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

That’s a very good question, because we don’t know. As I stated earlier, the unemployment rate is so high amongst people with disabilities that just the fact that they will be, with the employment standards in Ontario, for example, more employed and more employable, simply because people will see their value, will add to the tax base.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Okay.

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

The Rotman school in Toronto did a really wonderful job looking at the economic benefits of accessibility. I think it’s called “Unleashing….” I can’t remember, but it was done back about 10 years ago, and it looked at the economic benefits that come from increased accessibility.

It was, I think, a really well-done methodology, and I think it was very clear. The other thing is, what’s the cost of the barriers now? The costs are extraordinary in terms decreased productivity, reliance on social assistance and things of that sort. The costs are tremendous now. I think the economic benefits are really quite important.

(2035)

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

I have one quick last question.

Should the focus be on establishing targets to start versus deadlines to finish? There have been two of you who spoke briefly about 20 years and only a little happened, or 15 years and only a little happened. Should there be a stronger emphasis on establishing targets to start?

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

I can only speak for Ontario. Because of the standards being developed, five years or less, we felt we addressed that in the bill. That is how we addressed that in the bill. In fact, it was our colleagues in Great Britain, as well as in the United States, who recommended we do that. They were ahead of us—they were ahead of Canada and Ontario—and they found that, especially in Great Britain, the day before the deadline everyone was saying, what are we supposed to do? That’s when they said, have standards developed and enforced along the way.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Okay.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Mr. Ruimy, you have a minute and 40 seconds.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

What goes around comes around.

I want to jump to Mr. Adair.

You mentioned—and you’re not the only person who mentioned it—communications as a pillar. When we’re talking timelines, it’s not that anybody’s opposed to timelines. It’s trying to understand what they’d be referring to. Is it a deadline? Is it a timeline? Is it a benchmark? I want to bring it back to the communications, because you mentioned that there are so many things in communications, how would you even apply a timeline to communications? There’s a lot that you mentioned there. If you can maybe just talk about that, it would be great.

[Expand]

Mr. Bill Adair:

The general theme of what we’re talking about is that it’s important to have some quick wins and to have some long-haul objectives and to recognize that we’ll never really arrive at a fully accessible Canada. When we get there, there are going to be more challenges.

In terms of communication, this is not an area where I’m an expert. We do have partners among our 56 partner organizations who are experts in this area. Barbara Collier was a witness here earlier and would be a person who could give you details on that.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

She was the other person who mentioned communication as a pillar.

[Expand]

Mr. Bill Adair:

Exactly, and she, along with others, would be the right person to work on answering a question like that and putting timelines in. It’s very complicated, and some will be easier and accomplished more quickly, and some will take longer.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Therein lies the biggest challenge, because when we are talking about this, what we constantly heard was that it’s an evolution. It’s not a destination. It’s constantly evolving. With new technology that speaks to a better capability for communications, it’s constantly evolving. So when I talk about innovation, that’s why I don’t want to stifle it.

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Chair:

We go to MP Hardcastle for the final five minutes.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thank you.

I think I’ll expand on my colleague’s line of thinking, or questioning; I don’t want to say what he’s thinking. My understanding, and what we know about CASDO, is that it’s going to be on an ongoing basis providing standards. Once a standard has been decided, we need a deadline or a time frame, if you want to call it that, a coming to provision time when the federal government enacts it or doesn’t and provides a reason. Maybe all of you can expand on that and maybe slide in a little more about how responsibilities are fragmented right now after enactment does take place.

I know that Mr. Adair and Mr. Falconer….

[Expand]

Mr. Patrick Falconer:

I’ll speak mostly to the fragmentation issue. I think you have a patchwork of regulatory authorities that makes it unclear whether they will actually have consistent regulation. It’s unclear who to complain to. It’s possible that they’ll have conflicting standards. I think it creates duplication and confusion and will cost money, and that’s where the chasing of tails will happen. There will be lots of people doing the same thing without proper coordination and proper accountability to one source, which in this case would be the commissioner. I think that’s the issue.

Around timelines, again, I think the grand timeline’s an important one. I think the idea of saying within their first, we say, five years that the first standards will have been created…. I think the five-year timeline for the review of the act is critical, because if things aren’t working in the first five years, let’s figure that out and let’s make the changes. Let’s not wait for the first regulation and then five years. Let’s have…I would say four years. In the Manitoba act, four years after the act was proclaimed and enacted, there was a beginning of a review. I think we need that. This is new. We need to learn from it and correct the course as we go.

(2040)

[Expand]

Mr. Bill Adair:

I have a comment on the fragmentation. Our organizations are largely grassroots. Organizations of people with disabilities don’t necessarily have the legal expertise to answer the question around whether it should be one or two. What we’re calling for is a systematic approach that supports complainants, that gives them the support they need if they’re going to complain, a system where we avoid altercations or disagreements between different authorities—and maybe it’s one single source, or maybe it’s not—and complaints are resolved quickly.

Most importantly, we’re calling for a systematic way of supporting and reinforcing people whose rights have been violated in relation to the act. I don’t have the answer, but those are the principles that the folks we’ve talked to are looking for.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

In terms of the fragmentation then, it brings us to the matter of exemptions. Not only are we dealing with different entities that are going to be responsible for the same thing, but some entities, some organizations under federal jurisdiction, would be exempt.

There is also a concern that there won’t be a requirement for a rationale to be provided, or an appeal process for a person living with a disability, or someone who is civically engaged. If we’re going to keep these exemptions in, that’s a glaring oversight in terms of that kind of accountability. Could we have some feedback on that?

[Expand]

Ms. Marie Bountrogianni:

I don’t know enough about the exemptions and why they’re there. Perhaps there are good reasons, I don’t know, but I do know from Ontario’s experience that being firm with organizations on having to comply is important. I’m not talking specifically about exemptions. I’m just talking about our experience in Ontario. We need to be firm; otherwise, we will not get compliance. I don’t know enough about the exemptions to know why they’re there. I don’t understand the rationale behind them.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Do I have time for anybody else to comment on that?

[Expand]

The Chair:

Very quickly….

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Very quickly if I could, Mr. Chair, just to get this on the record, when I was giving my explanation of how I thought timelines would fit in with CASDO, I got a thumbs-up from Mr. Adair that he was agreeing with that summary.

With that then, I guess we’ll leave it for the next bit of questioning from my colleagues.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you.

Thank you very much everybody. We really do appreciate it. On behalf of the committee, thank you for accommodating our evening schedule here.

We will be continuing this. Just for my committee colleagues, the next meeting will be first thing tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. in this space.

Thank you very much. This meeting is adjourned.



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Transcript of the October 23, 2018 meeting of the House Of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities – Day 6 of Public Hearings on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act


Transcript of the October 23, 2018 meeting of the House Of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities – Day 6 of Public Hearings on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

Notice of meeting Amended

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA)

42nd Parliament, 1st Session

Meeting 117

Tuesday, October 23, 2018, 8:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

Room 415, Wellington Building, 197 Sparks Street

Televised

Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada

8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.

Witnesses Amended

Canadian Bankers Association

  • Marina Mandal, Assistant General Counsel
  • Tasmin Waley, Senior Legal Counsel

Canadian Disability Policy Alliance

  • Mary Ann McColl, Professor, Queen’s University

Amended Section

Royal Bank of Canada

  • Teri Monti, Vice-President, Employee Relations

9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

Witnesses

Accessible Media Inc.

  • David Errington, President and Chief Executive Officer

ARCH Disability Law Centre

  • Robert Lattanzio, Executive Director
  • Kerri Joffe, Staff Lawyer

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

  • Scott Shortliffe, Chief Consumer Officer and Executive Director
  • Mary-Louise Hayward, Manager, Social and Consumer Policy
  • Adam Balkovec, Legal Counsel

Clerk of the Committee

Stephanie Feldman (613-996-1542)

2018-10-22 11:22 a.m.

Minutes of Proceedings

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA)

42nd Parliament, 1st Session

Meeting 117

Tuesday, October 23, 2018, 8:46 a.m. to 10:46 a.m.

Room 415, Wellington Building, 197 Sparks Street

Televised

Presiding

Bryan May, Chair (Liberal)

Expand AllCollapse All

Members of the Committee present

Liberal

Conservative

Acting Members present

In attendance

Library of Parliament

Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada

Witnesses

Canadian Bankers Association

  • Marina Mandal, Assistant General Counsel
  • Tasmin Waley, Senior Legal Counsel

Canadian Disability Policy Alliance

  • Mary Ann McColl, Professor, Queen’s University

Royal Bank of Canada

  • Teri Monti, Vice-President, Employee Relations

Accessible Media Inc.

  • David Errington, President and Chief Executive Officer

ARCH Disability Law Centre

  • Robert Lattanzio, Executive Director
  • Kerri Joffe, Staff Lawyer

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

  • Scott Shortliffe, Chief Consumer Officer and Executive Director
  • Mary-Louise Hayward, Manager, Social and Consumer Policy
  • Adam Balkovec, Legal Counsel

Pursuant to the Order of Reference of Wednesday, September 26, 2018, the Committee resumed consideration of Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.

Marina Mandal, Mary Ann McColl and Teri Monti made statements and, with Tasmin Waley, answered questions.

At 9:46 a.m., the sitting was suspended.

At 9:50 a.m., the sitting resumed.

David Errington, Robert Lattanzio and Scott Shortliffe made statements and, with Kerri Joffe, answered questions.

At 10:44, by unanimous consent and pursuant to Standing Order 115(5), it was agreed that the Committee continue to sit.

At 10:46 a.m., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.

Stephanie Feldman

Clerk of the Co

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities

EVIDENCE

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

(0845)

[English]

[Expand]

The Chair (Mr. Bryan May (Cambridge, Lib.)):

I call the meeting to order.

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to today’s meeting on Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada. The objective of today’s meeting is to continue the committee’s thorough review of the bill.

Bear with me. I have a bit of a preamble here. I’m sure my colleagues are getting used to this.

I will take a moment to remind those participating in the proceedings, as well as those observing the proceedings of the committee in person and on video, that the committee adopted a motion on September 18 that included instructions for the clerk to explore options to allow for the full participation of all witnesses and members of the public on this study.

As a result, the committee has made arrangements to make all meetings in relation to the study of Bill C-81 as accessible as possible in a variety of ways. This includes providing sign language interpretation and near-real-time closed-captioning in the room. Please note that both American Sign Language and Quebec Sign Language are being offered to those in our audience. The first two rows of benches have been reserved for those who wish to avail themselves of these interpretation services. Screens displaying the near-real-time closed captioning have also been set up. The sign language interpreters in the room are also being videorecorded for the eventual broadcast of the meeting on ParlVu via the committee’s website.

If a member of the audience requires assistance at any time, please notify a member of the staff or the committee clerk.

So that you can keep your comments at a steady pace for the interpreters, I will not be very heavy-handed with the stopwatch. If you go over a little, it’s not the end of the world.

On our first panel this morning, from the Canadian Bankers Association, we have Marina Mandal, assistant general counsel, and Tasmin Waley, senior legal counsel; from the Canadian Disability Policy Alliance, Mary Ann McColl, a professor at Queen’s University; and from the Royal Bank of Canada, Teri Monti, vice-president of employee relations. Welcome to all of you. Thank you for being with us this morning.

We’re going to get started with opening remarks from the Canadian Bankers Association. Marina Mandal and Tasmin Waley, the next five minutes are all yours.

(0850)

[Expand]

Ms. Marina Mandal (Assistant General Counsel, Canadian Bankers Association):

Good morning, and thank you to the committee for inviting the Canadian Bankers Association to provide our comments on Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.

The CBA is the voice of more than 60 domestic and foreign banks, and their 280,000 employees, that help drive Canada’s economic growth and prosperity.

Canada’s banking industry is pleased to support Bill C-81. The CBA was actively involved in the consultation process that led to this legislation, and we look forward to continuing to work with the government on the development of the regulations that will set the standards for accessibility in Canada.

During debate in the House of Commons, Minister Qualtrough stated that this legislation “is good for business and business knows that this is good for business.” We agree. Canada’s banks are leaders in providing accessible environments for their employees and customers. Banks are committed to treating all people in a way that allows them to maintain their dignity and independence. Banks believe in providing equitable opportunities through diverse and inclusive environments and are committed to meeting the needs of people with disabilities by preventing and removing barriers to accessibility.

Banks have considerable experience with accessibility as it pertains to the workplace and employees. They offer individual solutions to employees with accommodation needs and have specialized departments to ensure that they continue to foster an accessible work environment. Banks have moved accessibility mandates forward through various approaches, including accessibility committees, policies and strategies, all with a goal to work continuously towards amplifying the voice of employees with disabilities.

Banks are also committed to ensuring accessible customer service. Most banks have groups with a dedicated accessibility mandate within their human resources and IT functions. Putting the needs of their clients first, banks continue to make enhancements so they can offer barrier-free facilities and services in their branches, offices, and bank machines, as well as online and through mobile channels.

Some examples of accessibility options provided by banks include teletype technology for telephone banking; video relay service; sign language interpreters upon request; Braille, large print and audio for various customer materials; enhancements at branches, such as door operators, ramps and washroom upgrades; and accessibility features on computers and mobile devices, such as colour contrast and the ability to increase text size.

We believe any federal accessibility framework should strike the right balance between being principles-based and prescriptive. The framework should also recognize that accessibility and accommodation are often person-specific. In areas where there’s frequent technological evolution, such as information technology, overly prescriptive standards could be problematic. In general, we support widely accepted standards that provide flexibility to institutions, customers and employees in order to achieve the intended outcomes, and that provide adequate certainty as to what constitutes compliance. Further, because standards may change frequently, particularly as technology evolves, the framework should provide organizations with the option to comply with the standard mandated in the legislation or an equivalent or higher standard.

Banks recognize that although significant progress has been made in making Canada more inclusive, people with disabilities still encounter barriers. The banks view accessibility as a journey and continually work to improve the inclusive design of their products and services.

We’re happy to answer and questions you might have.

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The Chair:

Thank you very much.

From the Canadian Disability Policy Alliance, we have with us Mary Ann McColl, a professor at Queen’s University. Welcome.

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Professor Mary Ann McColl (Professor, Queen’s University, Canadian Disability Policy Alliance):

Good morning, and thank you for this opportunity to appear before this esteemed committee and to share part of the research of the Canadian Disability Policy Alliance that I hope may be of use to you in your deliberations towards the passage of Bill C-81.

I will begin by commending the government on fulfilling its promise to Canadians with disabilities on the timely pursuit of this legislation and on the broad consultation undertaken.

My name is Mary Ann McColl. I’m a professor in the school of rehabilitation science and associate director of the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research at Queen’s University.

However, I’m here today in my role as the academic lead of the Canadian Disability Policy Alliance. The alliance is a national collaboration of disability scholars, advocates and policy-makers who are committed to understanding and enhancing disability policy in Canada. The CDPA is also a member of the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance, led by Spinal Cord Injury Canada from whom I believe you’re hearing tomorrow.

I understand that one of the objectives associated with the passage of Bill C-81 is the adoption of a disability lens, or a process that is reasonable, effective and efficient, for use by everyone in the public service to ensure that all government activities, including legislation, regulation, programs and reports, are considered in light of their implications for people with disabilities.

Such a lens would need to meet a number of criteria. It would need to be easily understood and presume no prior knowledge of disability. It would need to be written in plain language, be brief and efficient to use, comprehensive in terms of all types of disability and all types of policy, compatible with contemporary views and scholarship on disability, and evidence-based. I hope I’m not missing anything in those criteria. It sounds like a tall order, but I’m here today to represent a tool that was developed with exactly those criteria in mind: the CDPA’s disability policy lens.

The lens was first developed in 2006, based on an exhaustive review of the literature on disability policy analysis in preparation for a book, Disability and Social Policy in Canada, by myself and Lyn Jongbloed. Since 2006, it has been used by many disability scholars and graduate students in Canada and internationally, and has been cited in numerous publications. In 2017, it was refined and pilot-tested in collaboration with staff from the Office For Disability Issues and the minister’s office.

I believe you have the lens in front of you.

The lens takes the reader through a series of seven questions that go to the heart of contemporary disability policy analysis. However, it does not favour any particular ideology or stance. It merely asks the user to be explicit, to state their assumptions and to examine them.

Let’s take a closer look at the questions.

The first question asks whether the situation of people with disabilities is explicitly mentioned in the policy. Have their interests and implications been overtly considered, or is it assumed that the implications for people with disabilities are the same as for anyone else, and is that a legitimate assumption?

Second, if disability is mentioned explicitly, how is it defined? Currently, a number of definitions are in force in the federal policy infrastructure—for example, definitions associated with the Canada pension plan, the Canada student loan program, and the disability tax credit. Does the current definition conform with any of those, and does the policy focus on the right group of people? Who was left out, and who determines who is eligible to be considered?

The third question asks what the policy tries to do for people with disability. According to Bickenbach, there are typically three aims of disability policy: access—ensuring the ability to participate; support—providing the necessary goods and services; and equity—ensuring freedom from discrimination. Although admittedly interrelated, there’s usually a dominant goal that the policy addresses. If it’s equity, what kind of equity is sought: horizontal, vertical or outcome equity?

(0855)

The fourth question of the disability policy lens looks at the contemporary view of disability.

We no longer look at disability as something that is wrong with a person. That would have been the biomedical definition. Instead, we consider someone with a disability as someone who is prevented from having the life that they seek because of barriers encountered in a society not designed with them in mind.

Question 4 addresses the view of disability espoused by a policy. Are people with disabilities considered a minority group, with special interests or special needs, or are they simply considered citizens entitled to the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as other citizens?

Although it may sound like the answer should always be the latter, in many situations disabled people need to be singled out for special consideration, accommodations, benefits or programs.

The fifth question asks how this policy relates to other policies, first within this jurisdiction and then in other jurisdictions. Is something being given with one hand and taken away with the other? Is the policy objective either duplicated or undermined by policy elsewhere?

Sixth, who are the other stakeholders whose interests need to be considered alongside those of people with disabilities? I don’t need to tell you about this. Balancing the competing needs and desires of multiple stakeholders is what you do every day, but I have listed a few examples of other groups whose needs need to be considered, such as other minority groups or businesses in the private sector.

Finally, who are the advocates or proponents of the policy and who are its detractors or opponents? Where might we expect to encounter support or opposition? What might be the fallout of that opposition and how can it be countered?

I hope you will agree that these seven questions that make up the CDPA’s disability policy lens represent a process that meets the criteria set out at the outset: brief, evidence-based, versatile, easy to understand and administer, and compatible with contemporary disability studies.

Thank you for your attention and interest in our work. I’ll be happy to take questions.

(0900)

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The Chair:

Thank you very much.

Finally, from the Royal Bank of Canada, we have Teri Monti, vice president, employee relations. You have five minutes, please.

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Ms. Teri Monti (Vice-President, Employee Relations, Royal Bank of Canada):

Thank you very much, and good morning.

My name is Teri Monti. I’m the vice-president of employee relations at RBC. I have global responsibility for workplace policies and programs, leading a team of expert advisers who help employees and managers deal with workplace issues.

We’re a global financial institution with a purpose-driven and principles-led approach to delivering leading performance. Our success comes from our 81,000-plus employees who bring our vision, our values and our strategy to life so we can help our clients thrive and our communities prosper.

In 2017, we had 45,600 employees working in RBC’s federally regulated businesses. Of those employees, 7.4% identify as having a long-term or recurring physical, mental, sensory, psychiatric or learning disability. Only 4% consider themselves disadvantaged in employment because of their disability.

Our approach to accessibility has evolved over many years, and our vision has grown beyond the initial steps taken a few years ago. Today, accessibility is embedded in our diversity and inclusion blueprint for 2020, which sets out our vision to be among the most inclusive and successful companies, putting diversity into action to help employees, clients and communities thrive.

At RBC, employee and client accessibility practices are governed by our enterprise accessibility guidelines, which are consistent with the principles of dignity, independence, integration and equal opportunity, and outline our expectations with respect to accessibility practices globally. The guidelines also require employees to comply with the accessibility laws and requirements applicable in the specific jurisdictions where they operate.

Some lines of business and functional groups have also implemented local accessibility policies and best practices. One example would be our technology and operations business, which has its own IT accessibility guidelines. These guidelines are based on international standards for web accessibility and provide guidance in deploying technology solutions that are more accessible to those with blindness, low vision, colour blindness, mobility disabilities, deafness and hearing loss.

We know we have work to do, but we also have some great initiatives to profile, and I’d like to give some examples.

Within the built environment, every new RBC branch we open is wheelchair accessible and built in accordance with applicable building codes. Our physical locations are audited periodically by internal groups and external regulatory agencies to identify and remove barriers. In fact, we were excited to learn that the Rick Hansen Foundation, which we had begun working with to review the accessibility of our premises, will be an assessor working directly with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility.

Within employment, through the “Pursue your Potential” recruitment program, candidates get dedicated support during the job application process, which includes resumé writing and interview coaching, and they are proactively profiled to recruiters and hiring managers.

We’re really excited about our partnership with Specialisterne Canada to hire employees with autism, a non-visible disability. Specialisterne remains engaged throughout the entire process, including selection, hiring, onboarding and training.

Within information and communications technologies, today our telephone representatives can assist with a variety of financial solutions, or clients can do their own transactions via interactive voice response, teletypewriter or video relay services.

Our network of over 4,600 banking machines is the largest in Canada. We were the first bank worldwide to provide talking ATMs, now adopted by standards organizations around the world. Today, all RBC branch banking machines are voice guidance-enabled.

Within the procurement of goods and services, we are proud to be the first founding member of the Inclusive Workplace and Supply Council of Canada, which works to ensure that procurement opportunities go to businesses that are owned and operated by veterans or persons with disabilities.

Within delivery of programs and services, in conjunction with the CNIB, we’re excited to roll out BlindSquare, the leading navigation app for blind and partially sighted people, which acts as a verbal GPS when navigating the city. We will soon be able to provide verbal wayfinding inside our branches.

In 2017, we received acknowledgements of our work, including being ranked as one of Canada’s best diversity employers by Mediacorp and receiving the Spinal Cord Injury Ontario employer of the year award and the employment equity achievement award from the federal government.

We know there are still barriers for people with disabilities that can detract from our collective ability to create truly diverse and inclusive workplaces in communities.

(0905)

This is very much a journey, and we continue to work hard every day to improve. We support legislation that seeks to make Canada more inclusive and we are committed to respecting the legislation and regulations once adopted.

Thank you very much. I’m pleased to answer any questions.

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The Chair:

Thank you very much, all of you.

We’re going to get started on the first round with MP Barlow, please, for six minutes.

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Mr. John Barlow (Foothills, CPC):

Thanks, Mr. Chair.

Thanks to our witnesses for taking some time out of your busy schedules to be with us today. It’s certainly much appreciated to get your perspective on where this legislation is going.

In listening to you, Ms. Monti, about some of the work that RBC is already doing in your branches, which is great news, it certainly sounds like a lot of work has already been done. One of the concerns we have with the legislation is that it doesn’t include any standards or timelines to achieve some of those standards. To me, it sounds like there are probably some very good practical examples already in the private sector, as you were outlining.

Maybe you can give me some examples. Is this a concern or something that we should be worried about? Should the legislation have some definitive timelines for when there should be compliance from your members or from RBC, just in terms of some clarity on what your path forward should be?

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Ms. Marina Mandal:

As I think you’ve alluded to—and I hope the remarks that Ms. Monti and I made illustrate it—banks have been doing a lot of this already in the absence of legislation with the introduction of the AODA in Ontario and with Manitoba and Nova Scotia having their own legislation. That has spurred more activity. We’re ready to act quickly. From our perspective, this is something that the banking industry was doing prior to Bill C-81, and it will continue to evolve and progress.

Concerns have been expressed about timelines. We’re not opposed to timelines, but we recognize that the minister went through a very robust consultation involving so many stakeholders, which we were actively involved in, and we support the notion of a framework legislation that allows standards to evolve over time as best practices evolve and technology evolves.

The other aspect of that, of course, is that CASDO will have persons with disabilities on its board who can inform the process, and a lot of stakeholders have now been engaged in the process who can communicate their lived experience in a way that informs the standards. We support the framework legislation. We look forward to consulting with the government on standards. We really do think that the end product will be much closer to achieving the intended outcomes of the legislation.

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Mr. John Barlow:

Ms. Monti, do you want to add anything?

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Ms. Teri Monti:

I would agree with what Ms. Mandal has said. This is very big work and it’s important to do it right. It’s important to consult, and it’s important to listen to all of the stakeholders that are involved.

Looking at the policy lens that Ms. McColl referred to, I think you really do need to engage those stakeholders and spend the time to develop something that will work going forward.

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Mr. John Barlow:

One of the other issues with the legislation is that there seems to be a two-tiered system, as I read through it. There is a very large number of exemptions for government departments, but federally regulated private sector organizations do not have access to those exemptions. There are fines in place for federally regulated businesses that don’t meet the standards—when they are outlined—but there are no fines against government departments.

I would assume that if we want to do this right, as you’re saying, Ms. Monti, everybody should be treated the same. The government departments should have to achieve these standards just as a federally regulated private sector group should. I think that if we want to send the right message to Canadians with disabilities, which is that everyone is treated equally, there shouldn’t be exemptions and relief for government departments that federally regulated private sector businesses do not have.

I would ask all three groups if you could give me your opinion on that. Should we be looking at that? Should there be an even playing field across all government departments and federally regulated groups?

(0910)

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Prof. Mary Ann McColl:

You’re looking at me, so I’ll speak.

Voices: Oh, oh!

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Mr. John Barlow:

No pressure.

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Prof. Mary Ann McColl:

Obviously, yes, you would expect the same standard to be applied across the board. The mechanism for ensuring that standard is met may be different within government from what it is outside of government. I think the principle you’re stating, which is that you would expect the standard to be met across the board, is certainly sensible.

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Ms. Marina Mandal:

I’m happy to add on to that; we’re pretty much aligned.

I think it’s really about focusing on the intended outcome, and the Government of Canada has displayed a lot of commitment to that outcome in introducing this legislation. I think the distinction between the mechanisms and the path versus the outcome that Ms. McColl pointed out is what makes sense to me, so yes, I would say a level playing field, from my outcomes-based perspective, but there might be different ways of getting there.

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Ms. Teri Monti:

I don’t have anything to add. I agree with both.

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Mr. John Barlow:

I appreciate that.

I would agree with your comments, but in my opinion, it would be difficult to reach the same outcome if one group has some legislation that forces them to get to that outcome and another group doesn’t. One of them can apply for an exemption and wouldn’t have to reach that outcome at all. Your members would have legislation that ensures you meet those standards, whereas government departments would not. There’s also an appeal process for government departments that isn’t there for federally regulated associations. I think that is something we need to address in this legislation. That’s something I wanted to bring to your attention.

I have one quick question.

Mary Ann, you were talking about something with your disability lens. One of the officials from the government said that anybody who self-identifies as someone with a disability would be considered. I want your clarification. What would that entail—someone who self-identifies as someone with a disability? I hadn’t heard that term before.

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Prof. Mary Ann McColl:

By definition, someone who self-identifies is basically someone who responds affirmatively to the question “Do you have a disability?” Defining disability is a thorny issue. The government has addressed it in a number of places throughout the federal policy infrastructure.

It would be tempting to think there is one definition that we could apply across the board. In fact, given that different pieces of policy have different intentions and are intended to address different sectors of the population, it’s something that needs to be looked at very carefully.

Self-identification is a good start, but there needs to be a bit more thought than someone just coming forward and saying, “I have a disability and so I want to be considered for a particular program or a particular entitlement.”

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The Chair:

Thank you very much.

Next up is MP Long, for six minutes.

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Mr. Wayne Long (Saint John—Rothesay, Lib.):

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to our witnesses this morning. I continue to get an education every time somebody presents.

A lady in a wheelchair a couple of weeks ago said to me, “You’re opening up my world with Bill C-81.” I stopped, and we had a great conversation. I walked away from that, and she’s right. Bill C-81 is opening up the world for people with disabilities.

It hits home for me. In my riding of Saint John—Rothesay, Key Industries is an organization that deals with a lot of people with disabilities. We recently announced some funding there, EAF funding, so that they could have more accessible washrooms—just small, simple things like that.

Whether it’s getting on a plane in Saint John, catching a train, or mailing something, there are absolutely challenges and barriers for people with disabilities. I view transforming our businesses as an investment, not a cost. Sometimes I worry. Not only my Conservative colleagues but also other businesses I talk to say, “I would do that, but there’s such a cost.” I look at it more as an investment.

I’ll start with you, Professor McColl. Can you speak to that? In your opinion, is taking action to invest in enhancing accessibility more of an investment than a non-recoupable cost? Can you talk to that?

(0915)

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Prof. Mary Ann McColl:

Yes, and I’ll begin my remarks by saying that most people who have actually made the amendments necessary to make their premises accessible or their processes accessible are surprised by how small the costs are. The costs often sit in people’s minds as a huge impediment to moving forward with accessibility measures. In fact, our research has shown over and over again that people are surprised by how little the costs are.

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Mr. Wayne Long:

I’ll just jump in.

Somebody—and I apologize, because I forget which witness it was—mentioned that it was $500 per person, or something like that. It really wasn’t that significant.

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Prof. Mary Ann McColl:

I have not heard a number like that, but that’s very interesting. I’d love to know more about that.

The bottom line is that if we plan these things from the outset, if we design processes and structures to accommodate everyone from the outset, the costs are minimal. If we have to retrofit, they are more significant.

What that says to me is that legislation that makes it an expectation and a part of our culture to think about people with disabilities and to ensure their needs are considered in everything we do is the way to go, and it’s the way to be cost-efficient with it as well.

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Mr. Wayne Long:

For sure, and somebody like Mark Wafer at Tim Hortons led the way by showing that it was an investment. He came back with higher productivity, lower absenteeism and all of those things.

Thank you.

Ms. Monti, do you have anything to say on investment versus cost?

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Ms. Teri Monti:

We would absolutely agree that it’s an investment. It’s an investment in our people, our clients and the communities we support. It is good for the people and good for the communities, and it is good for business as well.

In terms of the actual cost, I would agree with Professor McColl. On average, it is surprisingly not as expensive as many people would think to accommodate people. That’s because a lot of accommodation costs nothing in terms of hard costs. It’s a schedule adjustment. It’s putting somebody’s workstation near a window rather than in the middle of the room. It can be a variety of things that are easily achieved without much cost.

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Mr. Wayne Long:

Can you touch on a couple of investments that Royal Bank has made across the country for people with disabilities?

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Ms. Teri Monti:

First of all, as I mentioned in my opening remarks, there are the voice-guided ATMs that are in all of our branches.

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Mr. Wayne Long:

Is that across the country?

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Ms. Teri Monti:

They’re right across the country in every branch.

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Mr. Wayne Long:

Okay.

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Ms. Teri Monti:

All of our ATMs are voice-enabled.

We have at least one wheelchair-accessible ATM in each branch as well. Over the next three years, we plan to have all of our branch ATMs wheelchair accessible and audio-enabled.

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Mr. Wayne Long:

What would happen in the event that a branch simply couldn’t adhere to that requirement for wheelchair-accessible ATMs?

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Ms. Teri Monti:

We don’t anticipate that being an issue. It’s part of our plan going forward in terms of ongoing branch renovations and new branch construction.

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Ms. Marina Mandal:

I think the only thing I’ll add on behalf of the association and its 64 member banks is that there’s a lot of competition for talent and for customers. I think we all know this. The banking industry is competing, and this is absolutely a 100% investment, an investment in employees. When you want to attract people, you want to have them stay. You want to promote them through the ranks. You want to accommodate them. It’s an investment in our talent pool.

Also, customer service is at the core of what banks do. Why would we not want to accommodate to ensure that more customers can access products and services?

(0920)

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Mr. Wayne Long:

Have you come up against any resistance at all? What changes have you seen over the last five years?

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Ms. Marina Mandal:

In the sense of resistance to the legislation itself?

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Mr. Wayne Long:

Yes.

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Ms. Marina Mandal:

We haven’t had any resistance to the legislation.

I think the language around accessibility—Ms. Monti referred to this in her opening remarks—is part of the broader discussion and conversation about diversity and inclusion. There isn’t resistance to the intended outcomes.

There are always things we think about. As I indicated in my opening remarks, we’re thinking about the balance between principles and description. We think about flexibility. Especially for our large cross-border members, we think about how other jurisdictions in the world evolve, particularly on information communication technology, let’s say, and how we can create standards that do not compel the Canadian bank to be completely at odds with what RBC’s U.K. subsidiary is required to do.

Those are the kinds of things we think about, but there there has been no resistance to the desired outcomes.

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The Chair:

Thank you very much.

Go ahead, MP Hardcastle, please, for six minutes.

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Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle (Windsor—Tecumseh, NDP):

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good morning. I’m hoping that we can get some more feedback from you with regard to how we can make Bill C-81 effective in using that disability lens. Other jurisdictions, other countries, have done this. This bill should be our first attempt at complying with the UN convention.

There are a lot of definitions out there. There are best practices being used, and it is evolving all the time.

A lot of the work that has been done focuses on seeing disability as one of the variables of the population, so that this act is ensuring more coverage, more access. We’re just broadening that cookie cutter, if you will, in saying that this is a part of the population who we have to start fitting in.

One of my colleagues mentioned in his question a fact that was provided to us about the Public Service Alliance of Canada. They’ve done a lot of groundwork because of the Employment Equity Act. I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with that in your roles right now, having to roll out the Employment Equity Act, but there’s a lot of synergy. There is a lot of opportunity here for us to leverage that. I would like to hear you expand on that if you could.

My time is brief. With that preamble, I’ll let you share your thoughts on how we can be leveraging existing legislation such as the Employment Equity Act.

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Ms. Marina Mandal:

I’m happy to start.

There is obviously a certain element of duplication there on the employment front. From a first principles perspective, the accessibility Bill C-81 is much more foundational legislation that covers a lot more. The Employment Equity Act, as you know, focuses just on the employment side.

That said, I think a lot of what has been done by federal employers under the EEA can be leveraged—and I’ll look to Ms. Monti to expand on that—to meet some of the requirements that we will see in the employment standards under Bill C-81.

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Ms. Teri Monti:

To add to that a bit, inclusion is the real goal. Inclusion is one of our core values, and that’s the goal we’re working towards.

The Employment Equity Act processes and reporting procedures help us get to that goal. This accessibility legislation will help us as well. They’re both channels, ways forward, that help us take that really holistic view of accessibility within RBC. It has multiple dimensions and takes that holistic view and helps us go forward with this work.

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Prof. Mary Ann McColl:

I think one of the strengths of this legislation is that it is structural in its approach rather than individualistic.

I referred before to the three objectives of policy, equity, access and support. Whereas the Employment Equity Act is about equity, about ensuring freedom from discrimination, this one is more about ensuring access and looking at the responsibilities of individuals and organizations toward people with disabilities. It’s ensuring an equitable and inclusive environment rather than affording people with disabilities redress against discrimination.

It’s a different way of approaching the same issue. Of course, the two ideas of equity and access are related, but I was delighted to see that this legislation was taking an access approach rather than simply adding another layer of anti-discrimination protections, which we’re well furnished with in Canada.

(0925)

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Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Mr. Chair, do I have another minute?

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The Chair:

You have 30 seconds.

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Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Okay.

What do you think of us having this new standards organization, especially as we’ve discussed here? What do you think of having that comprised with a majority, which sometimes could be one more than half? We were hearing testimony to the effect that 70% of the board should be people living with different abilities.

I would like to hear about your experience and how you gather your input, if you have some ideas for us about where you think that approach should go.

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Ms. Marina Mandal:

We’re aware that other witnesses have talked about specific numbers. I would say a couple of things. I think having this unique entity that has, just at the beginning, the requirement of 50% plus has been really great. We don’t have a specific number in mind. The provision, as you know, also requires the CASDO board to reflect the diversity of Canada overall. I’m optimistic that once it’s put into place and we see how the dynamic works between individuals on the board, it might evolve to a higher number.

I would say that it’s a very positive development in the first instance to have the CASDO board, unlike other boards that have a role in this, such as CHRC, be informed by persons with disabilities.

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The Chair:

Thank you very much.

MP Ruimy, you have six minutes.

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Mr. Dan Ruimy (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, Lib.):

Thank you very much, everybody, for being here today. As my colleague Mr. Long said, every day is a new day of education. We keep learning more and more.

I want to stick with timelines. We’re hearing a lot about timelines. When I think of timelines, I think of “by this date, this has to be done”, but I keep hearing, in all the testimony, about evolution. We haven’t told you to do things, but the banks and the airplane transportation agency are all saying the same thing: It’s an evolution to get to where we need to go, because there are so many different pieces.

When I look at the disability policy lens, I can see that; I can see why. There’s not one thing that says, “We’re there now. We’ve done it. Yay! We’ve done our job.” It doesn’t work that way.

At the end of this, we have to come up with potential recommendations for amendments and so on and so forth. I know that this one will play prominently, so I’d like to get more feedback on your thoughts around why we should or should not, as we’re proposing, have hard-core timelines on there, and why.

Let’s start with you, Ms. Mandal.

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Ms. Marina Mandal:

I touched on this earlier, but I’ll go into it in a bit more depth.

For us, it really is a very complex piece already in terms of what the framework legislation sets out. You have the infrastructure. You have to create CASDO, appoint the commissioner, appoint the officer. You have the standards development, which we heard about from many other witnesses, including us today. You heard that it needs to be finely tuned. It needs to be informed by experiences in other jurisdictions. It needs to be informed by stakeholders.

On the stakeholder point, the minister, I believe Minister Qualtrough, said that just in the last two years she has received feedback from 6,000 individuals and organizations. As we get into the details of the standards, we would expect to see more of that and other views being at the table. One of the points that we and other stakeholders have made to the government is about the desire to see harmonization within Canada—that is, with the provinces that already have legislation. As I indicated earlier, for our cross-border banks there is a desire to see at least ICT harmonization.

All of that takes a lot of time. There’s no end point where Canada is 100% barrier-free—that’s a dream—but as best practices and technology evolve, I think it will keep moving in that direction.

Ms. Waley, do want to add something on the progressive realization piece?

(0930)

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Ms. Tasmin Waley (Senior Legal Counsel, Canadian Bankers Association):

Sure.

One thing that’s mentioned throughout the act is this idea of “progressive realization”, the idea that accessibility is dynamic and constantly evolving. There will never be a date by which we’re finished with accessibility. That’s the view our banks take. This is an evolving process. We always want to be aware of best practices and always be innovating in terms of providing accessible options.

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Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Does anybody else want to add to that?

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Ms. Teri Monti:

I would echo Ms. Mandal’s comments about the need for harmonization. Making sure that the Canadian public, our employees and our clients have a consistent experience no matter which RBC door they come through, whether it’s a provincially regulated subsidiary or the federally regulated bank, is very important to us. It’s important to take the time as we go through this to make sure that the experience remains consistent.

This is very much a journey, as both Ms. Waley and Ms. Mandal have mentioned. The world evolves and things change. The goal you’re working toward today might shift a little bit with some new, innovative technology that makes more things possible. It’s important to have the flexibility to move forward in a way that takes that harmonized approach and also takes advantage of innovation as it happens.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Do you want to add something?

[Expand]

Prof. Mary Ann McColl:

I’d like to roll into my response a response to the questions about both the composition of the standards development body and the timelines.

A lot of stakeholders are involved here. There’s an opportunity to do this quickly or to do this well or something in the middle. We’re obviously balancing those two things. It’s complicated by the number of different stakeholders.

I refer you back to question number 6 on the policy lens. It says to be sure to give everybody who needs to have a voice a voice if they are going to play a part in implementation. As we know, if people don’t have their say at the outset, they dig their heels in and create opposition.

I know the number is important to some disability groups, but to me the issue is more about letting the right people have a voice so they don’t end up just being opponents to whatever happens. They have to buy into the process at some point.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Thank you. I have just about 30 seconds left.

Would you say that actually putting in timelines, legislating timelines, would be a downfall? Would it limit people to thinking “Oh, we only have to do this, so we’re not going to do anymore, because that’s what the law says”? Would you agree that would actually be detrimental to this process?

[Expand]

Ms. Marina Mandal:

I think it could be, absolutely, conceptually.

There is low-hanging fruit, and perhaps more so for the industry I represent and some of the other industries you’ve heard from. I’m cognizant, you know, that the minister did talk about the mom-and-pop trucking companies.

I think the answer is that it depends on the timeline. I think there could be a negative impact insofar as people saying they have x amount of time to do this and then they are done.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

MP Hogg, go ahead for six minutes, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg (South Surrey—White Rock, Lib.):

Thank you.

I think this is our fourth session. We’ve heard from maybe 12 or 15 witnesses, and not surprisingly, everybody who comes before us sees this is as a positive venture. The bill has a lot of positive notions to it, so they respect the values and the principles inherent in it. There are misgivings just about some of the details, but obviously the people who are coming are those people who are in favour of it.

I’m an adherent of John Stuart Mill’s notion of being able to understand the other side in order to make an informed decision. The other side has not come before us, yet people keep making references to it.

I wonder if each of you could take a couple of minutes and tell me what the other side would say, the people who are saying this is wrong, because no doubt we’re going to have to face some of those. Some of them are out there.

Professor McColl, what are the questions or the other side of this or the edges of this that we would hear from those people who are not in favour?

[Expand]

Prof. Mary Ann McColl:

I think that one of the other sides may be people with disabilities who think that it’s not enough, who want the legislation to go further and faster and be more far-reaching. I think that’s perhaps one of the most delicate sources of opposition to be addressed. I suspect you’ve already heard from some of them.

(0935)

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Are there others?

[Expand]

Ms. Teri Monti:

I think one thing you might hear from opponents is about the cost. I think we’ve talked a little bit about that versus making an investment. That might be a concern for smaller organizations that aren’t quite as far down the path as we are. You might hear a little bit about that.

[Expand]

Ms. Marina Mandal:

I don’t think I have anything to add. Those would have been the two I would have pinpointed.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Certainly we’ve heard from a lot of large organizations, national organizations, large businesses. Some references have been made. In fact a witness yesterday from YVR, the Vancouver airport, was saying he had concerns about some of the smaller organizations and their ability to finance some of the changes that were associated with it. That’s certainly been an issue, as have the timing and the standards, which MP Ruimy just made reference to.

I think contextually those are some of the things we have to look at, manage and deal with. There’s been a lot of discussion as well in terms of the policy development and ensuring that we have people with their own disabilities to inform the development of the policy. My experience in terms of policy is that that’s obviously a positive thing to do, but sometimes it seems to me that after the policy or legislation is developed and then goes to a bureaucracy, a government, to implement, that some things get lost between the policy development and the implementation stages.

Could you talk a little bit about how we might be able to ensure that is contained within the implementation process so that we have access to those people who have informed the policy to ensure that there’s not a disconnect between the policy and its actual implementation? I’ve seen that happen a number of times.

Are there some safeguards, some experiences you have, that would be helpful in terms of informing that?

[Expand]

Prof. Mary Ann McColl:

I think the standards development organization is a good safeguard against the intention getting lost and also a very direct way of implementing the policy. Of course, what happens in the public service is opaque to many of us. Probably you’re more familiar with it than we are. I must admit that I felt that the standards development organization was a good assurance that the intent of the legislation would be upheld.

[Expand]

Ms. Marina Mandal:

I would add that for the accessibility plans, the feedback and the progress report, as you know, Bill C-81 sets out the duty to consult with persons with disabilities. I think it’s another safeguard that ensures the people most impacted by the legislation stay involved on an ongoing basis as it’s implemented by the private sector.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Can you talk about other jurisdictions that we might learn more from? How does Canada, where it sits today, compare with other jurisdictions? Where are the very best practices? What are the pieces that we might learn from in terms of those jurisdictions that are doing this perhaps more effectively than we are in certain areas?

[Expand]

Prof. Mary Ann McColl:

Our natural comparators are the U.K., the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and those kinds of countries, and they’ve all gone the anti-discrimination route, of course, with their federal legislation. I’m very pleased that Canada didn’t go that route, but rather took an access-and-inclusion route. Ontario is the one jurisdiction that stands out as having tackled the problem of society-wide standards. I think there are lessons to be learned from Ontario’s experience.

[Expand]

Ms. Marina Mandal:

Ms. Waley and I are not all that familiar with experiences outside of Canada, although I take the point that Ms. McColl has just made. I would say that in Ontario, one of the things that has been great and has been translated into the Bill C-81 context is that notion of framework legislation with standards to follow, with separate consultations on each standard. I think Ontario is a good role model to look at.

[Expand]

Ms. Teri Monti:

I would also agree that Canada has been a leader in this area. I manage a global team. I have a team in the U.S. that does accommodations and a team in Canada that does accommodations. There’s a huge difference between the legal requirements and what is actually done. From that perspective, the individual perspective, I think we have gone considerably further than our colleagues in other parts of the world. I would say again that the AODA is probably a good example of existing legislation and process.

(0940)

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Are you saying—

[Expand]

The Chair:

I’m sorry, Gordie. I have to cut you off there. We have to get one more question in from MP Diotte.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte (Edmonton Griesbach, CPC):

To the banking representatives, thanks for outlining some of the good stuff you’ve done. It looks like there’s been significant progress.

I’m lucky enough to be an able-bodied person, yet I frequently have accessibility problems when trying to get through to a local branch or to a live person and in trying to navigate overly complicated websites to find features. How much more difficult is that for people with disabilities?

[Expand]

Ms. Marina Mandal:

I’ll start.

As we said in our opening remarks, we do see this as a journey, right? Also, I think that other stakeholders, not just the banking community or the private sector, see it as a journey.

There is a huge amount of innovation in the banking space, as there is in many other industries. It can often mean that we’re not communicating, that the communication out to customers and clients might not always come perfectly in sync with the evolution of the products and services, but going back to my point a little earlier, I can tell you that customer service is the core of our business. The banks don’t exist without customers, period. To the extent that persons with disabilities or persons who are able-bodied are challenged in finding information at a branch or on a website, I’d say that banks are there to help.

[Expand]

Ms. Teri Monti:

We do train people in customer service. We do try to make our websites and all of our information as accessible as possible to everybody. We are on a journey. We have said that. This is very much a journey.

We are looking for opportunities to improve, absolutely, and this legislation will give us a more harmonized view and the opportunity to get feedback to help us get there as we go through this process.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

One of the things that helped me recently with a problem with Shaw, I think it was, was the feature of live chat. You get frustrated. You can’t reach anybody. You’re on hold. Are banks going that route? Do they have that now? Is it accessible for people with disabilities as well?

[Expand]

Ms. Teri Monti:

We do. We have a number of channels that people can use to reach out to us, including live chat on our websites. These are accessible through multiple formats.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Do any of you have any ideas regarding amendments that could be used for this bill?

[Expand]

Ms. Marina Mandal:

We don’t have amendments in mind for Bill C-81. Some of the considerations that we put forward to the government as we engaged over the last two years actually would end up relating more, I think, to the standards, whether it’s a balance between a principles-based approach and a prescriptive approach, or harmonization with the provincial jurisdictions that have accessibility legislation. Our concerns or considerations have been more in that direction, but not with regard to the text of the bill itself.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

I think both banking representatives talked about how a lot of progress has been made, but how there are still barriers for people with disabilities. Can either of you give me some examples of the barriers that still exist?

[Expand]

Ms. Marina Mandal:

I think one we can point out—and again, it’s a point about how innovation happens and how there might be a bit of a gap or a lag time—is touch screens. A lot of people are banking on mobile now, and those touch screens might not be accessible to everybody, although there’s a lot that the banks and our vendor partners have done to bring the technology forward and make it more accessible. That’s an example I would use.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Ms. Monti, do you have any examples?

[Expand]

Ms. Teri Monti:

There are individual situations, because each individual, obviously, presents different capabilities and different disabilities. We do find, occasionally, individual issues with the location, parking and things like this that can act as barriers.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

I’ll stay on that note. Obviously banks are going to a model of taking away the neighbourhood locations and going to farther satellite locations, merging three or four branches into one. How does that impact somebody with a disability?

(0945)

[Expand]

Ms. Marina Mandal:

With regard to branch closures, they’re always happening in consultation with the community. It’s definitely not an easy decision. Part of that consultation in determining whether to have a physical location involves consultation with all of the impacted customers. There are alternative ways to deliver products and services, whether it’s online, mobile, or having mobile financial planners or mortgage advisers who can be made available to customers.

Again, I keep going back to the first principle: that banks don’t want to lose customers. They’re waging a war for customers, so these decisions are made with a lot of thought and consideration. Obviously part of that is how to retain customers and ensure that they continue to be serviced, regardless of the manner in which they’re serviced.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Do you think that you’ll be going more and more to a model of bankers coming to us, to able-bodied and disabled people? I know that in larger business deals and so forth, they’ll do that. Is that something that’s on the horizon?

[Expand]

The Chair:

Give a very quick response, please.

[Expand]

Ms. Teri Monti:

We are certainly looking to expand our network of mobile advisers.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Excellent.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

That takes us to the end of this panel.

I want to thank all of you for joining us and contributing to our study on Bill C-81.

We’re now going to suspend very briefly to bring in the next panel.

(0945)

(0950)

[Expand]

The Chair:

I’d like us to come to order. Please take your seats. Thank you.

Welcome back, everybody. Welcome to our second panel for today. I’m not going to go through the whole preamble from earlier with regard to the accommodations being made. I will just remind everybody that both French and English sign language is going on. As a result, and as a request from them, please keep your comments at a metered pace. If you are going too fast, I will interrupt you, so I apologize in advance. We just want to make sure that everyone is heard appropriately through the different accessible means.

Joining us here on our second panel from Accessible Media Incorporated is David Errington, president and chief executive officer.

From ARCH Disability Law Centre, we have Robert Lattanzio, executive director; and Kerri Joffe, staff lawyer.

From the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, we have Scott Shortliffe, chief consumer officer and executive director. Joining him we have Marie-Louise Hayward, manager, social and consumer policy; and Adam Balkovec, legal counsel. Welcome, everyone.

We’ll start this morning with opening remarks. Please keep the remarks to about five minutes. Again, keep a steady pace and don’t worry too much about going a little over your time.

First, from Accessible Media Incorporated, we have David Errington, president and chief executive officer.

The next five minutes are all yours, sir.

[Expand]

Mr. David Errington (President and Chief Executive Officer, Accessible Media Inc.):

Good morning, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. My name is David Errington, and I’m the president and CEO of Accessible Media Inc., or AMI. Thank you for inviting me to appear before you today.

AMI commends the government on tabling Canada’s first federal legislation aimed at improving accessibility for people with disabilities. The objective of the proposed accessible Canada act, namely to enhance the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society, is very much in keeping with AMI’s mandate.

AMI is a media company that entertains, informs and empowers Canadians who are blind and partially sighted. AMI’s mandate is to establish and support a voice for Canadians with disabilities, representing their interests, concerns and values through accessible media, reflection and portrayal.

AMI is currently licensed by the CRTC to operate three television services: AMI-audio, AMI-tv and AMI-télé. All three services have been deemed by the CRTC to be of exceptional importance to obtaining the objective in paragraph 3(1)(p) of the Broadcasting Act, which provides the following:

programming accessible by disabled persons should be provided within the Canadian broadcasting system as resources become available for the purpose;

As a result, all three services have been granted mandatory carriage status as part of the basic television service by the CRTC.

AMI-audio is Canada’s only English-language television audio reading service. It offers a variety of compelling stories and engaging original content to Canadians who are blind, partially sighted or otherwise print-restricted. AMI-audio’s mandate is to deliver a steady and timely flow of information that is essential to the decision-making needs of our audience.

AMI-tv and its French language counterpart, AMI-télé, are television services that provide blind, partially sighted, deaf and hard-of-hearing Canadians with access to open-format described video and closed-captioned versions of popular programming, as well as original first-run content, in a manner that is inclusive for all.

For those unfamiliar with the term “described video”, or DV, it’s a narrated description of a program’s main visual elements, such as settings, costumes and body language. Descriptions are added during pauses in dialogue, and enable blind and partially sighted individuals to form a mental picture of what’s happening in the program. While DV typically uses a separate audio track, AMI has pioneered the use of integrated described video, or IDV, whereby the identification of the key individual elements is incorporated into the pre-production, production and post-production phases of the original programs.

In addition, all the programming on AMI-tv and AMI-télé is provided in open-format described video with closed captioning. No special equipment or extra steps are required to access any of our television services, making them truly accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

All three of our television services are the first of their kind in the world. These three services, along with our companion websites, mobile app, online media player, YouTube channel, and social media presence, provide blind, partially sighted, deaf and hard-of-hearing Canadians with access to entertainment, news and information programming that they would not otherwise be able to enjoy on platforms of their choice.

However, AMI is more than just a broadcaster. In order to address the evolving needs and expectations of blind and partially sighted Canadians and the changes within the audiovisual environment, AMI is involved in a multi-faceted company that creates, advocates, collaborates and innovates in order to enable accessibility to all media.

With regarding to creating, our television services focus on creating commissioned, original first-run Canadian programs that directly address issues of importance to blind, partially sighted and disabled communities. Without AMI’s provision of this type of programming, these stories would not otherwise be told. These programs all provide positive on-air portrayal of blind and partially sighted individuals as hosts or subjects of the programs, and feature themes and material of particular relevance to blind and partially sighted individuals.

As a result, AMI has become a springboard for talent in the blind and partially sighted community, with approximately 78% of our on-air personalities being persons with a disability.

Regarding advocacy, AMI has become a leader in advocating on behalf of the blind and partially sighted community to domestic and foreign regulatory bodies, such as the CRTC and the disability advisory committee of the Federal Communications Commission, or FCC.

In addition, we provide opportunities for blind, partially sighted and disabled individuals to participate more fully in social, political and cultural life. For example, we hosted an accessible federal election town hall for the 2015 federal election, which encouraged blind and partially sighted individuals to cast their ballots and participate in a key aspect of our democracy.

On collaboration, we collaborate with numerous organizations, including the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, the Federal Communications Commission and, most recently, the World Wide Web Consortium to ensure that Canada’s accessibility agenda is advanced both domestically and internationally.

We partner with other broadcasters in local colleges to teach integrated described video techniques, in the hopes that future generations of producers will regard accessibility as a fundamental component of production rather than a post-production afterthought.

(0955)

We innovate. Through our innovation, we try to ensure that scientific and technological advances in accessibility are extended to blind and partially sighted communities. Our innovative and pioneering use of integrated described video has resulted in multiple awards. Together with the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and other organizations, we have created an award-winning online described video TV guide. We launched our first successful online media player for broadcasts in North America, and starting with our breakthrough live description of Toronto Blue Jays baseball games, we have described live events that were previously thought to be unsuitable for described video, opening a whole new world of possibility and enjoyment for our viewers.

We’re also actively involved in developing and approving DV awareness and standards both within the Canadian broadcasting system and on the international scale. Together with the Canadian Association of Broadcasters and other organizations, we have created best-practice guides for DV and IDV production in both official languages.

In 2017 we were awarded the FCC Chairman’s Award for advancement in accessibility for the integrated described video best practice guide. AMI was one of only four winners of this award, two others of which were Facebook and Amazon.

These innovations enable AMI and other broadcasters to improve the quality of their described video productions and to make them readily available to blind and partially sighted viewers. As evidenced from these examples, AMI’s mandate is not just about accessibility but also about representation, reflection and positive portrayal of blind and partially sighted Canadians.

However, there is still more work to be done. The needs and expectations of the blind and partially sighted community with respect to media accessibility are undergoing the same profound shift as experienced in broader Canadian broadcasting systems. Like everyone else, these viewers are in search of high-quality content that speaks directly to their needs and interests and that is readily available on a variety of platforms.

According to the CNIB, approximately half a million Canadians are estimated to be living with significant vision loss that impacts their quality of life, and every year more than 50,000 Canadians will lose their sight. Moreover, CNIB predicts that the prevalence of vision loss in Canada is expected to increase nearly 30% in the next decade. This is due to the demographic shift caused by the aging population, with the population of Canadians aged 65 and older expected to double in the next 25 years.

In addition, there is a growing incidence of key underlying causes of vision loss, such as obesity and diabetes. The CNIB warns that without action, the number of people with sight problems in Canada is likely to increase dramatically.

(1000)

[Expand]

The Chair:

Excuse me, Mr. Errington; you’re running at about seven and a half minutes.

[Expand]

Mr. David Errington:

Okay.

[Expand]

The Chair:

I’m wondering if you can just conclude quickly, and then maybe we can deal with some things in questions. Thank you.

[Expand]

Mr. David Errington:

Sure. No problem. I’ll just do the final part.

We are pleased that the CRTC has prioritized certain of these accessibility measures in their recent policy decisions. The CRTC has implemented a tiered approach to ramp up the amount of DV programming being provided by television broadcasters based on the size and resources of broadcasters. The CRTC has required certain television distributors to include in their annual returns certain information relating to the availability of set-top boxes, the penetration of set-top boxes, and the number of accessibility-related queries they receive. These measures are consistent with and perhaps even overlap some of the reporting requirements contained in Bill C-81.

Given the limited financial means of many blind and partially sighted individuals and the lifeline that television and media provide to these individuals, we believe the Government of Canada should ensure that accessible set-top boxes and remote controls are available for free or at a substantially discounted rate to blind and partially sighted individuals. Until accessible set-top boxes and remote controls become ubiquitous, there will continue to be a barrier to television programs for blind and partially sighted Canadians.

I appreciate the opportunity to present AMI’s views on this important matter, and I will be pleased to respond to any questions you may have. Sorry for being long.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you.

Up next, from ARCH Disability Law Centre, we have Robert Lattanzio, executive director; and Kerri Joffe, a staff lawyer.

Welcome to both of you. Go ahead for five minutes, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Lattanzio (Executive Director, ARCH Disability Law Centre):

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to this committee for this opportunity to speak with you this morning.

ARCH Disability Law Centre is a specialty legal clinic focused solely on disability rights. We work on the ground with communities of persons with disabilities, with disability organizations, and within all levels of courts and tribunals in test case litigation. We commend the government and the minister for introducing Bill C-81, an important and positive step towards advancing full inclusion for persons with disabilities. We believe that amendments are needed for this bill to achieve its stated purpose.

Today we highlight four recommendations.

First, we would like to address exemptions. This committee has heard from government that exemptions are needed to ensure innovation and flexibility for small organizations and those who exceed accessibility standards. We do not agree that the broad exemption powers currently in the bill are necessary to achieve these policy objectives. The bill must send a strong message that accessibility is everyone’s responsibility. Therefore, as a general matter, regulated entities must not be exempt from complying with accessibility requirements. If exemption provisions do remain in the bill, we recommend safeguards, including these next three: one, exemptions should be granted only in the narrowest of circumstances; two, reasons for the exemption should be made public and the public should be afforded opportunities to provide feedback; three, any exemptions should be subject to periodic review and should be removed if and when they are no longer necessary.

The second recommendation today, as the committee is aware, relates to the fact that the bill lacks timelines. ARCH shares the concerns of disability communities. Timelines are essential for ensuring that the bill will advance accessibility in Canada and for measuring progress towards this goal. We support recommendations that clause 5 include a timeline for achieving a Canada without barriers. We support recommendations that the bill include timelines by which accessibility standards are developed and enacted into law.

With regard to timelines, progressive realization is an important international law concept that can provide a framework for ongoing implementation and monitoring of accessibility requirements. ARCH recommends that the minister and regulated entities establish benchmarks for progressively realizing a Canada without barriers in all the designated areas, establish specific and progressive timelines for meeting these benchmarks, and monitor progress towards meeting these benchmarks.

We also recommend that independent reviews of the act be held to coincide with Canada’s reporting obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We recommend that the first independent review of the act be held in 2025, to coincide with Canada’s third report to the UN CRPD committee, and every four years thereafter.

Third, we need amendments to ensure that accessibility requirements do not diminish existing legal rights of persons with disabilities. The Canadian Human Rights Act and the charter provide vitally important protections from discrimination for people with disabilities. Disability communities fought hard for these protections. We are concerned that regulated entities may believe that compliance with accessibility requirements is the same as fulfilling their obligation to accommodate and not discriminate. This would be a troubling, unintended consequence of Bill C-81. The bill must work together with the Canadian Human Rights Act and the charter. Therefore, we recommend that the preamble and the purpose clause of Bill C-81 clarify that nothing in the act lessens existing human rights obligations of federally regulated entities under the Canadian Human Rights Act, and that where a conflict arises between the proposed accessible Canada act and another law, the law that provides the greatest accessibility for persons with disabilities will apply.

Fourth, Bill C-81 does not designate one central agency to oversee compliance of accessibility requirements and to adjudicate complaints. Rather, it creates an overly complex system of multiple agencies. This will create confusion and additional unnecessary barriers to access to justice for persons with disabilities. We heard this concern consistently throughout the consultations that we conducted. Multiple bodies adjudicating accessibility complaints will likely result in uneven or unfair enforcement, delay and inefficiency.

(1005)

Following a legal analysis of CTA decisions, and from our experience, we are concerned that the CTA may be more likely to treat human rights and accessibility as secondary to technical concerns, resulting in weak enforcement of accessibility requirements in transportation. We heard similar concerns from the community about the CRTC.

To avoid these problems, the accessibility commissioner should receive all complaints about violations of accessibility standards. The no-wrong-door policy is inadequate to address our concerns.

Our materials include recommendations in relation to the rights of indigenous persons with disabilities, intersectionality and recognition of sign languages, among other important issues.

Thank you. We would be happy to take any questions.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

Up next, from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, is Scott Shortliffe, chief consumer officer and executive director, as well as Marie-Louise Hayward, manager, social and consumer policy, and Adam Balkovec, legal counsel.

Thank you to all three of you. You have five minutes, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Shortliffe (Chief Consumer Officer and Executive Director, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission):

Thank you, Mr. Chair, for this opportunity to participate in the committee’s review of Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.

I’d like to begin today by saying two things. First, I’d like to acknowledge that we meet today on traditional Algonquin territory. Second, if you’ll permit me:

[Witness speaks in sign language]

[Translation]

The CRTC’s approach to accessibility is based upon the fundamental belief that a person’s ability to access broadcast and telecommunications services dictates their ability to participate meaningfully in society. Our accessibility policy is grounded in the principle that equality is a core Canadian value and is central to public interest.

(1010)

[English]

During the last three decades, the CRTC has adopted a series of regulatory policies to enhance the ability of Canadians with disabilities to access communications networks. We have updated these policies as new technologies and resources have become available.

[Translation]

The CRTC has continually championed accessibility and has required service providers to deploy appropriate technologies to improve access for all Canadians, regardless of their level of ability.

[English]

In the mid-1980s, for example, the CRTC began to mandate teletypewriter, or TTY, relay services for Canadians who have a hearing or speech disability. In 2009, the requirement was expanded to include the provision of IP relay services, and, five years later, the provision of video relay service.

Accessibility requirements for broadcasters have followed a similar evolution. Initially, broadcasters were required to closed-caption only a percentage of programming. Today, all pre-recorded English and French programming must be closed-captioned.

In 2009, the CRTC began to require that broadcasters provide described video services four hours per week. Beginning next year, all large integrated broadcasters must provide the services throughout prime time.

[Translation]

The CRTC’s work in the domain of accessibility also includes regulatory measures designed to facilitate access to the devices Canadians use to access communications services, whether it is accessible set-top boxes, remote controls or wireless mobile handsets.

The CRTC also recognizes the importance of facilitating interactions with service providers. This is why we established mandatory industry codes of conduct: the Wireless Code and the Television Service Provider Code. These codes ensure that persons with disabilities can receive contracts and bills in accessible formats, and can access extended trial periods to ensure that equipment and services will meet their individual needs.

To develop regulatory policies, the CRTC consults with Canadians—including those with disabilities—along with service providers and other stakeholders by holding open, public proceedings. The input of Canadians with disabilities is crucial to developing effective and impactful accessibility policies. It’s also why the CRTC website presents key content, such as a guide to our Rules of Procedure, in ASL—American Sign Language—and LSQ—Quebec’s Langue des signes québécoises.

[English]

To achieve the larger goal of barrier-free access, the CRTC recognizes that it must engage with other administrative tribunals. To this end, the CRTC participates in working groups alongside the Canadian Human Rights Commission and other administrative tribunals in order to leverage accessibility expertise and increase efficiency.

As a federal regulatory tribunal, the CRTC must pursue the policy goals set by the Broadcasting Act and the Telecommunications Act and also act fairly, abiding by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This requires the CRTC to balance competing objectives in rendering decisions that ultimately serve the public interest.

As communications technologies evolve, Canada’s regulatory framework must be flexible and rigorous enough to make the most of new opportunities and to eliminate and prevent systemic barriers related to accessibility. Advances in communications technologies have opened the door to an unprecedented wealth of content and interactivity. The CRTC’s position is that it is the right of all Canadians to be able to access this wealth regardless of their ability, and it is committed to working to ensure that all Canadians can benefit from it.

[Translation]

As I mentioned, the CRTC’s approach is informed by Canadian human rights principles, and these principles will continue to guide our regulatory work.

[English]

I’d like to remind this committee that the CRTC is an independent regulator. I note that this panel includes a party regulated by the CRTC. As such, and to preserve the commission’s independence as a regulator, I may be unable to comment on certain issues raised or to fully answer certain questions. That said, I will do my best to answer any questions this committee may have.

Thank you very much.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you, sir.

Up first is MP Falk for six minutes, please.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster, CPC):

I’d like to thank you all for taking time out of your day to be here today. The committee really appreciates it, because we are hearing different things.

Earlier today, colleagues across the way mentioned that they’ll be pushing for no timelines, or they alluded to that. On that, I have a question for ARCH, for Mr. Lattanzio and Ms. Joffe.

You mentioned in your opening remarks the importance of timelines and benchmarks. Do you have suggestions of what those timelines or benchmarks should be?

(1015)

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Lattanzio:

We have some examples, but I would just like to start, if I may, by talking a little bit more about what flowed from the earlier session in terms of “progressive realization”. We understand it to be much more rigorous than what was discussed at that previous session. When we think about examples of timelines, we’re really thinking about how we break down the various pieces. As complex as this piece of legislation is, we’re really thinking about creating a structure whereby we can start parcelling off and achieving certain benchmarks.

Some examples would be just around the standards development process—having some timelines, some measurements, and some benchmarks for regulated entities to develop and implement their accessibility plans. Those are just a few examples, but we can really break that down and identify various other things.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Even with regard to having the accessibility commissioner and CASDO established, and the timelines with that, with the way the legislation sits right now, once this receives royal assent, what happens?

[Expand]

Ms. Kerri Joffe (Staff Lawyer, ARCH Disability Law Centre):

As my colleague stated, we certainly support the calls from the other disability organizations that have appeared before the committee that of course there should be timelines attached to part 5 of the bill for bringing in the regulations and standards, for CASDO being set up, and for the standards development process.

I think what we’ve been trying to emphasize as well, in addition to those standards, which are crucial for ensuring that we can monitor progress towards meeting accessibility requirements, is that we also need to insert benchmarks and some kind of timeline process within the development of the standards process in order to ensure that we do reach markers for progressive realization of the standards and the ongoing work toward improving meeting the standards.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Do you think that having some type of timelines or benchmarks while doing this piece by piece, step by step, would achieve the balance? The trend I’m seeing or hearing from people within the disability community is that they expect timelines to be in this. A lot of the organizations I’ve met with said that this should have been dealt with yesterday, not today, just as a whole.

I understand that we’re moving forward. Things are evolving. Things change over time. I understand that. I’m just concerned that if this legislation has no timelines, no benchmarks, what type of message would that send to people in the disability community?

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Lattanzio:

I would be concerned about that message. I think overall the concern, as you mentioned, is that as of day one, when this bill receives royal assent, there isn’t anything else required.

In addressing the concern about the progression of technology, for example, or how we understand disability and how it evolves, our response would be that standards would have to be updated as we go, and that these updates would fit within whatever timeline is set out. There are ways of dealing with that kind of progression and change.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Perfect. Thank you.

I have one other question regarding complaints. We know—and I believe you touched on this—that we have four administrative bodies that would be responsible for dealing with accessibility-related complaints. These would include the accessibility commissioner, the CRTC, the Canadian Transportation Agency, and the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board. I’m wondering what would happen, theoretically and hypothetically, if an individual were to bring a complaint to the wrong administrative body. What would happen if, for example, somebody brought a complaint to the accessibility commissioner when it should have instead been filed with the Canadian Transportation Agency?

(1020)

[Expand]

Ms. Kerri Joffe:

That’s an excellent question. I don’t think that we know right now what would happen in the absence of regulations and without sufficient experience in how the process would roll out within the various agencies.

What I will say is that in doing our analysis of the bill and in coming up with recommendations, we consulted with our members, with disability communities and with a number of the other groupings of disability organizations that have appeared before the committee and will appear before the committee later this week. We heard consistently across all those consultations that there is great concern within the community about having these various agencies deal with complaints and about the additional access-to-justice barriers that this would create, especially when disabled people already experience a number of barriers to accessing justice and accessing extremely complicated service delivery systems and programming systems. People are very concerned about that.

From a legal point of view, we are concerned about the ability of the other bodies charged with addressing these complaints to apply a robust human rights analysis in conjunction with a full understanding of disability accessibility and human rights. We’ve made a number of recommendations in our other materials for ensuring that either complaints all go to the accessibility commissioner, a body that we would anticipate would have a deep understanding of human rights and can do justice to those kinds of complaints, or, if the complaints are going to continue across multiple agencies, that those agencies have obligations in the legislation to apply a much more robust human rights analysis than they currently do.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

MP Morrissey is next, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey (Egmont, Lib.):

Thank you, Chair.

My question is to ARCH. An earlier witness made the statement that at no time will Canada be barrier-free, which then leads to a question we’ve heard from a number of stakeholders, namely, that there is no deadline to make Canada fully accessible. Should the goal be to always strive to achieve a more accessible Canada, or should the goal be to achieve a static standard of accessibility? I’d be interested in your observation.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Lattanzio:

I don’t think that having timelines means we are taking the position that we are accepting a static accessibility goal. We think about timelines just as a way to move us forward into whatever evolution.

I think we also need to remember that this bill is not going to do it all. This isn’t the one law that will make inclusion real for people with disabilities. This isn’t the law that will make full citizenship real. This is one important piece—one piece—and we need to understand that we have a lot of different layers. We have an incredibly aspirational convention that we’ve ratified. We have the charter, of course, and we have the Canadian Human Rights Act. I think this committee has heard a lot about how the Canadian Human Rights Act, like those types of laws, is a piece of legislation that is reactive, and that this bill is proactive.

I want to challenge that a bit, because I think that in order to really understand where this bill fits into the larger landscape, we need to acknowledge that the human rights legislation is actually not just reactive. There are a lot of things from a rights perspective that really strive to encourage government and the private sector to push for accessibility through a non-discrimination lens. When you think about that with the charter, and then you add this piece, you start to really understand the importance of some of the recommendations we’re making around ensuring that one piece of law doesn’t impact the other, but rather complements the other.

I hope that answers your question.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

It spoke to the global issue, but it didn’t get back to what the target should be: to achieve a more accessible Canada or to achieve a static accessibility goal.

I have another question for ARCH. This legislation, as was referenced a number of times, takes on an access approach versus an anti-discriminatory route. Could you comment?

(1025)

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Lattanzio:

Sure. I guess this—

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Other jurisdictions have used an anti-discriminatory route rather than the focus on access.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Lattanzio:

Again, if we think about how these different laws operate, we see that we have a more individually driven system through an anti-discrimination approach, whereby you have a complainant identifying an issue of discrimination and bringing it forward through a process. It’s somewhat piecemeal. It’s embedded within the facts of that scenario, within the facts of that complaint. The attempt here is that we are thinking about it more globally. We are thinking about a level of minimum standards.

Again, I don’t want to treat them as different. I think they need to really work together for this to really work. Think about how we work through human rights complaints. Obviously we deal with the facts before us, but we think about the systemic implementation of some of the remedies. We think about the impact. Sometimes we deal with issues that this act may very well deal with. There are a lot of those commonalities.

Again, I fear to draw clear distinctions between the two. There is overlap, and there is a real need to make sure they work together.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Did your group participate in the consultation process?

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Lattanzio:

Yes, we did.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

In that consultation process, did you comment on or question the situation that I just posed to you?

[Expand]

Ms. Kerri Joffe:

We did. During the consultation process, we made comments and provided information around trying to think about this legislation as not only focused on accessibility but really focused on rights for persons with disabilities, in terms of thinking about persons with disabilities as rights holders and about the CRPD implementation kind of legislation.

We wrote a couple of papers in the pre-bill consultation period that tried to think about and put forth some recommendations around how this legislation could implement a number of rights that are in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and implement those much more fully into Canadian domestic law. We can provide those to you if that would be of interest after today.

Yes, when Bill C-81 was getting going, I think we definitely were thinking of this legislation much more as rights-conferring legislation, rather than focusing only on accessibility.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

MP Hardcastle is next, please.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you very much for the testimony and for pointing out the importance of progressive realization of timelines.

I think ARCH will probably have the first comments to make on this. With regard to Bill C-81, the largest organization that will have to obey this legislation is the federal government. I want to ask about independence from the government. Under the bill right now, there could be some perceived weakness in independence. I’d like to hear your thoughts on that.

[Expand]

Ms. Kerri Joffe:

Thank you for the question.

Certainly we would agree that independence is crucial for key components of this bill. It is crucial, especially for CASDO, to ensure that the proposed accessibility standards are as robust and progressive as they can possibly be, and really address the needs of a cross-section of persons with disabilities without being encumbered by the government of the day or the particular politics of the day. That’s an area where we have made recommendations for enhancing independence.

We’ve also made recommendations around independence in relation to other key accessibility components in the bill, and we’re happy to provide those to the committee. Those are contained in our written submission to the committee.

(1030)

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Does anybody else want to talk about independence, and where these agencies should report?

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Shortliffe:

From the CRTC’s perspective, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. We will of course implement whatever legislation is passed; we’re not going to take a view on whether it should be with us or not. The CRTC has always zealously guarded its independence. Numerous governments of the day could testify that they haven’t always been delighted with CRTC decisions.

We are working with the other agencies to say that we’ve seen the thrust of the bill and we will implement what it has passed, but, for example, we’re forming working groups to make sure there’s a “one front door” approach. If a complaint came into the CRTC that belonged to the transportation agency, we wouldn’t simply send them on their way. We’ll process it the moment it comes in.

I think, as independent tribunals, we can maintain our independence from the government, but that doesn’t mean we can’t also work together efficiently and effectively to make sure that the intent of this bill is always respected. I believe that we have shown in the past that we can be independent. I also believe that means we can work together for the benefit of persons with disabilities.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thank you.

Let’s go back to the concern we heard from Mr. Shortliffe about exemptions. A big concern is that there are exemptions without any reason having to be given. We talk about this bill moving us into an era of culture change, of human rights for persons living with disabilities, but there’s no appeal process. Let’s talk about if, worst-case scenario, the exemptions stay for these federal jurisdictions. Can we flesh out the idea of reporting, an appeal mechanism, a rationale for it?

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Shortliffe:

It’s important to remember that from the perspective of the CRTC, we already have established procedures. There’s nothing that goes to the CRTC that isn’t based on a public record or a public hearing comment, which includes comment by disability groups. Once we make decisions, they can be appealed. They can be appealed to cabinet in the case of a telecom for a review on variance.

On the broadcasting side, they can be appealed to the Federal Court. In the issues that have been raised, the CRTC operates on the public record and on the basis of public testimony. We do not issue exemptions issued by a star chamber with no public record and without—

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Absolutely, and that’s all good. The track record of the CRTC is all public knowledge.

We’ll give the last little bit, then, to ARCH.

[Expand]

Ms. Kerri Joffe:

We addressed this in our opening remarks, but I think our recommendation has been to have no exemptions. The policy reason for that is, as Mr. Lattanzio said, that accessibility is everyone’s responsibility, and no one should be exempt from moving towards a more inclusive and accessible Canada.

You asked about keeping the exemptions, and we’ve made some recommendations for tailoring those exemptions much more specifically to the particular requirements of the organization that is asking for an exemption. We would say that those exemptions should be granted only in the very narrowest of circumstances. They should be time-limited. There should be a review process in place so that as the organization works towards meeting its accessibility requirements, if and when that exemption can be lifted, it is lifted, and before the decision is made to grant that exemption, there should be a process in which persons with disabilities can engage to provide their input and perspective about whether that exemption is actually required and what the impact of that will be on the community.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

MP Sangha, go ahead, please.

(1035)

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha (Brampton Centre, Lib.):

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thanks, everyone, for coming today and making your presentations. They’re really very educational.

I’m from Brampton Centre. There are people whom I generally sit with and talk to and do some consultations with regarding the things I’m coming to committee with and asking questions about.

I had a chance to talk to Ms. Bains. She has an accessibility professional certification. She is an expert in digital accessibility and she advises teams and management about creating inclusive accessible online services.

Being an expert in this, she says she has no grudges. She has good facilities that are being provided through the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Things are favourable, but sometimes she says there are disappointments.

She says there is a complaint process that disabled people sometimes have to go through. They have to hire their own lawyer. The other side’s organizations have their firms and big lawyers, and the disabled person’s side has very big problems getting suitable results from the tribunals. Being a lawyer, I also have that concern.

Ms. Joffe, my question is to you. Being a house lawyer, what do you think of this proposition? What is your reply to how to tackle these complaints?

[Expand]

Ms. Kerri Joffe:

How do I address the issue about people with…?

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

I mean the complaints about accessibility for these people.

[Expand]

Ms. Kerri Joffe:

We experience every day in our clinic that people with disabilities are very disempowered. There are many complaint processes because, as you said, the respondents or the organizations that are being complained about usually have a lot more resources, and they have lawyers and in-house counsel, and they can bring a lot of resources to bear in defending themselves.

When we’re looking at the bill and how this bill sets up a complaint mechanism to the accessibility commissioner and to other bodies, but specifically to the accessibility commissioner, it appears to us that the process is intended to be relatively quick and non-legalistic, and to provide a remedy or a result in a manner that doesn’t create these power imbalances in which the other side has a lot of lawyers and the person with the disability is really at a disadvantage.

I think if we can work to get a complaint process that does create a bit more of a power balance and that can really support people with disabilities meaningfully participating in that process, and if that process can be really accessible, then hopefully there will be a chance to avoid some of those concerns you have raised.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

Taking into comparison the Canadian Human Rights Commission Tribunal and the new set-up that will now be under Bill C-81, do you think that the process under Bill C-81 will be more favourable to complainants or will it be more tedious?

[Expand]

Ms. Kerri Joffe:

Yes. It’s very—

[Expand]

The Chair:

Give a quick response, please.

[Expand]

Ms. Kerri Joffe:

It’s very difficult to say, because we don’t know what that process looks like right now, so I’m not really able to answer as to whether it’s going to be more favourable to people or not. What will determine whether it’s going to be more favourable is how accessible the process is, how much it allows people with disabilities to meaningfully understand and participate in the process, what kinds of results or remedies we get, how well trained the decision-makers are, and how deeply they understand human rights and accessibility issues.

(1040)

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

Is the dispute resolution process the same as this one? Is there already a dispute resolution process in existence?

[Expand]

The Chair:

Answer very quickly, please.

[Expand]

Ms. Kerri Joffe:

Is there a dispute…?

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

Is there a dispute resolution process already in existence to resolve complaints?

[Expand]

Ms. Kerri Joffe:

I think some of the issues that people with disabilities will complain about to the accessibility commissioner may also be able to be brought to the Canadian Human Rights Commission under their legislation, the Canadian Human Rights Act.

[Expand]

Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

MP Long is next, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

This is for ARCH and Mr. Lattanzio. I want to talk about the “no wrong door” part of the legislation. Obviously if you go to a department, you don’t just get bumped to another department; there’s onus on the department. Would you not agree that’s a step in the right direction?

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Lattanzio:

It’s certainly better than…. If that’s going to be the system, then we want to make sure that the complaint lands where it needs to land. I think the real issue is that when you have an overly complex system, it’s best to remedy that system, as opposed to creating band-aid solutions.

As we discussed earlier, we already have various incredibly complex tribunal processes that persons with disabilities really struggle through. There is a lack of legal representation and a lack of legal aid that covers a lot of these areas like human rights, for example. It’s really difficult for us to say that this is a solution.

We also might think about, from an accessibility perspective and an access to justice perspective, what it means if someone can make a complaint to a body, and it’s up to that body, up to a bureaucratic decision, where that complaint goes. I think we would have some very serious concerns around the lack of control and the disempowerment that this mechanism plays on the complainant.

Again,if we had a system in which we had assurances of legal support, for example, I think my answer might be a little bit different—probably not—but there are no supports in place here.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Thank you for that.

I also want to get your opinion on the CASDO board, diversity on the board, and subclause 23(2). Is there a way to amend that, potentially, that allows for more diversity on the board in the disability community?

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Lattanzio:

Certainly we would suggest, as do our colleagues in disability communities, that we would want as much representation as possible given the diversity, intersectionality and multiple disabilities.

I want to make a point that I haven’t heard yet. We talk a lot about the makeup of the CASDO board, but we haven’t really talked about the makeup of the committees that are doing a lot of that work in standards development. I think we have a concern that there hasn’t really been a lot of attention to ensuring representation on those committees.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Chair:

You have about a minute left.

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Well, if we have a minute, does anyone else want to comment on the makeup of the CASDO board? Should each disability community be represented as best possible? Should it be 50% plus 1 or 70%? There are those who say 100%.

Mr. Shortliffe, would you comment?

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Shortliffe:

As a regulatory body, we try to avoid commenting on the government’s decisions on the compositions of boards and other regulatory bodies. Certainly we believe there should be strong representation, but we don’t have a specific formula that we would advise.

In our case, when we’re doing consultations, we consult regularly with groups. Whether they’re national like CNIB and the Neil Squire Society or the alliance for deaf Canadians in Alberta, we see that having different points of view represented is key, because as with any Canadians, disabled Canadians have a variety of different views. It’s not a monolith. The greater diversity you have, the more informed your decisions will be.

Having said that, we have no specific formula to propose.

(1045)

[Expand]

Mr. Wayne Long:

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

I’m afraid that’s going to have to be the last word.

Not only are we coming up to our time but we can see that the bells are ringing for votes.

I want to remind committee members that some unique times are associated with the next few meetings.

We are going to be meeting tomorrow evening, October 24, from 6:45 to 8:45. Then on the 25th we will be here very early, at 8 a.m., so it will be a late night and an early morning.

I want to thank the witnesses for being here today to contribute to our study on Bill C-81.

As well, thank you to my colleagues and all the people who made today possible.

The meeting is adjourned.



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Transcript of the October 22, 2018 meeting of the House Of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities – Day 5 of Public Hearings on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act


Transcript of the October 22, 2018 meeting of the House Of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities – Day 5 of Public Hearings on Bill C-81, the Proposed Accessible Canada Act

Notice of meeting

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA)

42nd Parliament, 1st Session

Meeting 116

Monday, October 22, 2018, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Room 415, Wellington Building, 197 Sparks Street

Televised

Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada

6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Witnesses

Canadian Transportation Agency

  • Scott Streiner, Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Vancouver Airport Authority

  • Craig Richmond, President and Chief Executive Officer (by videoconference: Vancouver, British Columbia)

VIA Rail Canada Inc.

  • Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and Chief Executive Officer
  • John-Nicolas Morello, Senior Legal Counsel, Legal and Corporative Affairs

7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Witnesses

Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association

  • Robert W.J. Ghiz, President and Chief Executive Officer
  • Ursula Grom, Senior Director, Industry Affairs

Communication Disabilities Access Canada

  • Barbara Collier, Executive Director

Council of Canadians with Disabilities

  • Jewelles Smith, Chairperson (by videoconference: Surrey, British Columbia)
  • Steven Estey, Government and Community Relations Officer

Clerk of the Committee

Stephanie Feldman (613-996-1542)

2018-10-19 2:35 p.m.

Minutes of Proceedings

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA)

42nd Parliament, 1st Session

Meeting 116

Monday, October 22, 2018, 6:00 p.m. to 8:03 p.m.

Room 415, Wellington Building, 197 Sparks Street

Televised

Presiding

Bryan May, Chair (Liberal)

Expand AllCollapse All

Members of the Committee present

Liberal

Conservative

Acting Members present

In attendance

Library of Parliament

  • Mayra Perez-Leclerc, Analyst

Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada

Witnesses

Canadian Transportation Agency

  • Scott Streiner, Chair and Chief Executive Officer

Vancouver Airport Authority

  • Craig Richmond, President and Chief Executive Officer

VIA Rail Canada Inc.

  • Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and Chief Executive Officer
  • John-Nicolas Morello, Senior Legal Counsel, Legal and Corporative Affairs

Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association

  • Robert W.J. Ghiz, President and Chief Executive Officer
  • Ursula Grom, Senior Director, Industry Affairs

Communication Disabilities Access Canada

  • Barbara Collier, Executive Director

Council of Canadians with Disabilities

  • Jewelles Smith, Chairperson
  • Steven Estey, Government and Community Relations Officer

Pursuant to the Order of Reference of Wednesday, September 26, 2018, the Committee resumed consideration of Bill C-81, An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada.

Craig Richmond, by videoconference from Vancouver, British Columbia, Scott Streiner and Yves Desjardins-Siciliano made statements and answered questions.

At 7:01 p.m., the sitting was suspended.

At 7:08 p.m., the sitting resumed.

Jewelles Smith, by videoconference from Surrey, British Columbia, Steven Estey, Robert W.J. Ghiz and Barbara Collier made statements and answered questions.

At 8:03 p.m., the Committee adjourned to the call of the Chair.

Stephanie Feldman

Clerk of the Committee

Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities

EVIDENCE

Monday, October 22, 2018

[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]

(1800)

[English]

[Expand]

The Chair (Mr. Bryan May (Cambridge, Lib.)):

I call the meeting to order.

Good evening, everyone.

First of all, I want to thank everybody for joining us this evening. We are going to continue with the study of Bill C-81. I have a bit of a preamble here, so please bear with me.

Welcome to today’s meeting on Bill C-81, an act to ensure a barrier-free Canada. The objective of today’s meeting is to continue the committee’s thorough review of the bill.

I would like to take a moment to remind both those participating in the proceedings and those observing the proceedings in person and on video that the committee adopted a motion on September 18 that included instructions for the clerk to explore options to allow for the full participation of all witnesses and members of the public on this study. As a result, the committee has made arrangements to make all meetings in relation to the study of Bill C-81 as accessible as possible in a variety of ways.

This includes providing sign language interpretation and near-real-time closed captioning in the room. Please note that both American Sign Language and Quebec Sign Language are being offered to those in our audience. Those who would like to watch the American Sign Language interpretation should please sit on the benches to my left. Those who would like to watch the Quebec Sign Language interpretation should please sit on the benches to my right. In addition, please note that the first few rows of benches have been reserved for those who wish to avail themselves of these interpretation services.

Screens displaying the near-real-time closed captioning have also been set up. The English text is to my left, and the French text is to my right. The sign language interpreters in the room are also being videorecorded for the eventual broadcast of the meeting on ParlVu via the committees website.

In light of these arrangements, the committee would ask that if you need to leave the room during the meeting, please do not walk in front of the sign language interpreters. Instead, please use the extremities of the room. In addition, we would ask that those in the room remain seated as much as possible during the meeting so that everyone in attendance can clearly see the sign language interpretations.

Finally, if a member of the audience requires assistance at any time, please notify a member of the staff or the committee clerk.

I will also ask the witnesses present today or appearing via video conference and all of my colleagues to keep your speech at a slow pace to allow the interpreters to do their job and be able to keep up. If at any time I see that anybody may be going a little bit too fast, I will interrupt, so I apologize in advance. We want to make sure that your words are captured by the interpreters throughout the meeting.

I’m very pleased to welcome our first panel here this evening. From the Vancouver Airport Authority, we have Mr. Craig Richmond, President and Chief Executive Officer, joining us via video conference from Vancouver, British Columbia.

Can you hear me okay, sir?

[Expand]

Mr. Craig Richmond (President and Chief Executive Officer, Vancouver Airport Authority):

Yes, sir.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Excellent.

We also have in attendance here today, from the Canadian Transportation Agency, Mr. Scott Streiner, Chair and Chief Executive Officer. From VIA Rail Canada, we have Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and Chief Executive Officer, and John-Nicolas Morello, Senior Legal Counsel, Legal and Corporate Affairs.

Welcome to all of you.

We’re going to start this first round with five-minute statements, and then we’ll go to rounds of questions.

Mr. Richmond, the first five-minute statement is all yours.

(1805)

[Expand]

Mr. Craig Richmond:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to the committee for inviting me to speak today.

I’m very grateful to have this opportunity to talk about accessibility. I’d like to provide you with a broad perspective on behalf of the airport community, because it’s an important topic that will impact us all.

First I’d like to quickly give some context. As you may know, most Canadian airports are managed by local, not-for-profit organizations. Under this unique model, we do not receive any money from the government. Instead, we operate as private companies, having to compete and innovate to stay ahead of the competition. However, we are not beholden to shareholders. We reinvest all profits back into our airports, which allows for constant improvements. Underpinning this is a commitment to provide an exceptional experience for everyone.

YVR has become a model of accessibility and inclusion because we believe that everyone who wants to fly should be able to fly, and everyone who wants to work at the airport should have that opportunity. We have spent the last 25 years making our airport barrier-free.

For instance, we have universal food and service counters that welcome people using wheeled mobility devices. We use low-resistance carpeting on our floors for easier movement and greater stability. We work with a range of partners to ensure that YVR meets high standards through terminal audits. We host experiential tours to test our facilities. This includes a tour for families living with autism and a tour for those living with spinal cord injuries.

We also address non-visible disabilities. For instance, we just introduced our Fly Calm initiative with the Canadian Mental Health Association. This program helps travellers de-stress prior to air travel.

In addition to making our airport barrier-free, we also strive for employment equity. We’ve been named one of Canada’s best diversity employers, and just recently the federal government has recognized our achievement with the Sector Distinction award and the Employment Equity Champion award.

We got to this point because we set equity targets, closely monitor them, and take action. Currently women make up 42% of our workforce; visible minorities make up 33%; aboriginal peoples make up almost 2%; and persons with disabilities make up 3%. In fact, persons with disabilities made up 4.8% of our hires this year. Yes, we have work to do, but we’re heading in the right direction.

We also have a large range of programs to promote a diverse workplace, and we have overhauled our procurement process, looking at how we can reward companies that value diversity. We’re doing a lot, and of course there’s always a lot more to do. That brings me to Bill C-81.

Overall, we’re very happy to see a bill of this nature, and we believe it’s about time. The preceding was to let you know that we are not afraid of the bill. We’re ready.

However, I’m worried that the bill is a bit heavy-handed. It also presents possibly significant administrative burdens, and I believe we’ll run into some major issues in applying standards.

Additional feedback and reporting requirements in the bill would add a considerable burden, which is even more challenging when we consider the differences among airports. There are a lot of small airports that don’t have the resources that we do. These airports would be much better off spending funds to install accessibility ramps than producing reports. For them, it’s often one or the other.

This brings me to the proposed Canadian accessibility standards development organization. Do we really need this to do what’s needed? My concern is duplication and redundancy with what other organizations are already doing in the built environment.

How can we leverage what already exists, rather than creating another body that will bring more costs and bureaucracy? An alternative would be to bring in organizations that are already doing accreditation. It could start with a general visit and not a compliance audit. For instance, we just got certified at YVR, the Vancouver airport, by the Rick Hansen Foundation.

I also agree that it’s important to set standards and hold everyone accountable. Ultimately, of course, the way to ensure that is through fines. However, fines should be the last resort.

I’m co-chair of the Presidents Group, a network of business leaders in Vancouver committed to improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities in B.C. One reason the group was formed was to find less punitive ways to get organizations to comply. My question is, how much of a hard stance will we take on fines? Is there a grace period to implement the measures needed? If so, how long is it?

The reality is that there will always be areas in which we will be underperforming. We are never fully compliant. Nobody is. We’re always evolving our buildings, so grandfathering is very much an issue. We’re committed to getting it right, but the solutions are often expensive and time-consuming.

In conclusion, overall we support the bill and think it will go a long way to removing barriers and improving accessibility across Canada. I look forward to working with you to further improve our accessibility, and thank you for providing me with the opportunity to voice YVR’s perspective today.

(1810)

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much, sir.

Before we go on, I remind you to keep your pace a little bit slow. That would be great. I have not been very heavy-handed this session with the timing, so if you go over a little bit, it’s not the end of the world. Just keep that in mind.

Next, from the Canadian Transportation Agency is Mr. Scott Streiner, Chair and Chief Executive Officer.

The next five minutes are all yours, sir.

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner (Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Transportation Agency):

Thank you, Chair, and thank you to the committee for inviting me here today.

[Translation]

It’s a pleasure to be here today to provide an overview of the Canadian Transportation Agency’s (CTA) accessibility-related responsibilities and activities as part of the committee’s hearings into Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act.

[English]

The Canadian Transportation Agency, CTA, has been around since 1904. We are Canada’s longest-standing independent expert tribunal and regulator. In 1988 our enabling legislation was amended to add accessible transportation as one of our core mandates. As the Supreme Court of Canada said in a 2007 ruling upholding one of our decisions, “Parliament charged the Agency with the public responsibility for assessing barriers [because the] Agency uniquely has the specialized expertise to balance the requirements of those with disabilities with the practical realities…of a federal transportation system.”

Ensuring that Canadians with disabilities are able to travel independently and with dignity is in the CTA’s DNA. We all know that transportation services are integral to modern life whether we’re going to visit family, see new places or conduct business. As the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states, transportation services to which persons with disabilities have equal access “enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life”.

The CTA’s vision is to make Canada’s national transportation system the most accessible in the world. We know that this is an ambitious vision, but we believe that in a country whose fundamental values include equality and inclusion we should aspire to nothing less.

[Translation]

We’re taking major steps to translate that vision into reality. Let me briefly highlight four examples.

First, in 2016, we established the CTA’s centre of expertise for accessible transportation, which serves as the hub of activity within and beyond the CTA for all matters related to the removal of barriers to persons with disabilities in the national transportation system.

[English]

Our second action relates to regulation.

Following two years of intensive consultations with disability rights organizations and industry, we’re drafting new accessible transportation regulations that will integrate two existing regulations and six voluntary codes into a single robust, binding and enforceable instrument. The consultative process included multiple discussions with our accessibility advisory committee, which brings together 19 disability rights groups plus representatives from the air, passenger rail, and interprovincial bus and ferry sectors. We hope to have the new accessible transportation regulations ready for publication in the Canada Gazette in early 2019.

Third, we’ve organized multi-stakeholder discussions, including a working group focused on the significant and growing challenges associated with the transportation and storage of wheelchairs and other mobility aids on aircraft. That working group’s recommendations are expected to be ready by the spring.

Finally, together with our partners in Global Affairs Canada and Transport Canada, we’re spearheading efforts to give accessible air travel more profile within the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO. One of our goals is make sure that accessible air travel figures prominently on ICAO’s agenda during its triennial general conference next September in Montreal.

(1815)

[Translation]

We’re also getting ready to implement Bill C-81, should it be passed.

We’re putting the pieces in place for the launch of a proactive education and compliance monitoring and enforcement program within 60 days of royal assent.

[English]

We’re revising the standard wording that we apply to accessibility adjudications to reflect the language of Bill C-81 and we’ve held discussions with the other implementation bodies named in the bill to begin working toward coherent, well-aligned approaches to the delivery of our respective accessibility mandates.

Accessible transportation is a fundamental human right. The CTA is committed to ensuring that this right be realized in practice through clarity of purpose and concrete action.

Thank you for your attention. I look forward to answering your questions.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much, sir.

Now from VIA Rail Canada, we have Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and Chief Executive Officer, and John-Nicolas Morello, Senior Legal Counsel, Legal and Corporative Affairs.

You have five minutes, sir.

[Translation]

[Expand]

Mr. Yves Desjardins-Siciliano (President and Chief Executive Officer, VIA Rail Canada Inc.):

Good evening, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.

Thank you for inviting VIA Rail—my colleague John-Nicolas Morello and me—to present our position on this ambitious bill and, if necessary, on accessibility.

VIA Rail did not wait for this bill to be introduced to serve more than 4.4 million passengers, many of whom have some kind of disability affecting their mobility, vision, hearing, and so forth. We offer the required services for inter-city transport in Canada that is accessible to everyone, from sea to sea. When one in seven Canadians has a disability, if we are to achieve a society without barriers, it is essential to provide access to efficient and safe transportation between cities, for those travelling on business, for family reasons, tourism or simply to enjoy Canada’s bucolic landscapes.

[English]

Furthermore, not only are we confident we can meet the requirements of the proposed legislation, but we have been acting with the intention of doing what that act purports to do.

[Translation]

Indeed, inclusive and sustainable mobility is central to VIA Rail’s mandate, which is to better serve Canadians.

[English]

We’ve taken action by anticipating the mobility needs of people with disabilities and increasing the space available to them over the past few years. More than 1,450 accessible spaces have been added on board our trains since 2014. At present our capacity to accommodate Canadians with disabilities is already six times greater than it was just a few years ago.

To ensure that our services go beyond what is already in place, thanks to the Government of Canada VIA Rail has invested more than $162 million since 2010 in the following areas: on our trains we just recently awarded a contract for $54 million to make 17 cars fully accessible on the oldest generation of VIA Rail trains, which cover the country from one ocean to the other all the way to Churchill, Manitoba; we’ve consulted groups in devising the new functionality that makes those cars accessible; and as well, again, thanks to budget 2018, we are in the midst of procuring a totally new fleet to serve the business corridor between Quebec City and Windsor, where we currently serve over 4.5 million Canadians. That fleet will be totally accessible.

I want to salute in this room today Bob Brown, a member of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. He and his colleagues from the council and other organizations representing people with disabilities have met with VIA to set out the specifications required to adapt to their disabilities, and as well have been part of the visits we’ve made to manufacturers to ensure the product that is being designed meets those requirements.

Here in Ottawa over the last two years we’ve spent $20 million to retrofit the Ottawa station, which we want to see as a model of universal access not only here in VIA Rail’s network but around the world. We are currently working with the Union Internationale des Chemins de fer to devise a way for people with blindness or other sight disabilities to find their way from their front door all the way to their train seat without the aid of other individuals, providing them not only with mobility but freedom.

The introduction of a continuous improvement process at VIA to ensure greater accessibility is part of our DNA, to use Scott Streiner’s expression. We’ve already become, in our view, a world leader in accessibility. As we celebrate our 40th anniversary, as I said, we’re just about to procure a new fleet that will be 21st century in terms of accessibility.

We’ve also proposed to build a dedicated infrastructure for VIA Rail services between Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. That high-frequency rail network would also provide universal accessibility not only on its cars but at all of its stations.

(1820)

Because it will be fully accessible and fully available to VIA Rail services, it will provide three times the number of frequencies that we have today on freight networks, making greater accessibility in a broader sense available to all Canadians.

[Translation]

Lastly, as an employer, VIA Rail understands the importance of integrating people with disabilities into our workforce. That is why, as president and CEO of Via Rail, my objectives include recruiting a certain number of persons with disabilities among our new hires. Right now, 3% of our employees have a disability. This year, we want to maintain that percentage.

In fact, among my performance objectives for 2018, I was aiming for more than 32% of employees from diversity communities, including persons with disabilities, and we are already at 42%!

[English]

I like to under-promise and over-deliver.

[Translation]

In other words, this year alone, VIA Rail has hired 12 new employees who have a disability.

In short, at VIA Rail, we recognize that we are an important pillar of inclusion and sustainable mobility, and that all Canadians cannot be truly equal unless they can fully enjoy their freedom as Canadians, not only in their thoughts, but also in their mobility.

That is why we are committed not just to meeting the objectives of this very important bill you are discussing today, but in fact to exceeding them.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

[English]

Up first for questions, we have MP Finley for six minutes, please.

[Expand]

Hon. Diane Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk, CPC):

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Over the last few years, I spent about two of those years travelling across the country with the aid of at least a cane and often a walker or a wheelchair. One thing I noticed in particular was the dramatic difference in accessibility in different airports.

For example, here in Ottawa, if anyone tries to drop you off at the airport by car and then go in to get a wheelchair for you, the parking police come along to give you a ticket. If you go to Toronto, the wheelchairs are at the very back of the terminal, and it’s the same deal. You’re not allowed to stop and wait while somebody goes and gets your wheelchair.

In other places, the airlines say that the delivery of the service is up to them, and they’ll come right to the curb and pick you up.

There’s no consistency. Would this bill change that situation? If so, how?

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

Mr. Chair, perhaps I can provide an initial response.

The issue of wheelchair services is one that we at the Canadian Transportation Agency have seen crop up again and again. Of all the different issues around which we receive accessibility-related complaints, it’s the most common topic.

Also, as I noted in my opening remarks, we recognize that the transportation of wheelchairs and other mobility devices on aircraft is becoming a more challenging issue. That’s because there’s a positive development, in that wheelchairs are becoming larger, more technologically complex, more customized and better at meeting the needs of the individual traveller, but that means it can sometimes be more challenging to transport them and to store them on aircraft. That’s the reason we set up a multi-stakeholder working group to deal with this challenge.

The member asked about whether positive change is coming. What I can say is that the CTA has been working for several years now on its new accessible transportation regulations, which will include a section on the obligations of airports and airlines in respect of the provision of wheelchair services. Those provisions should help to ensure more consistent service delivery and a better quality of service delivery. I think we’re confident, after two years of consultations and development, that these new regulations will help to make a positive difference in the area that you’ve identified as one of concern.

(1825)

[Expand]

Hon. Diane Finley:

It’s totally inconsistent right now. You just never know what to expect.

Mr. Richmond, I don’t know if you have any comments on that; I know that you’ve worked in many different airports around the world. If so, I welcome them.

Also, I’m wondering, because you did refer to smaller airports, what you anticipate would be the impact on these airports of the unfunded mandate that would be inherent in the passage of Bill C-81.

[Expand]

Mr. Craig Richmond:

Thank you very much.

As Mr. Streiner said, it’s a growing issue, especially as we have an aging population all over the world. It’s not uncommon for us now to have requests for 50, 75, or 100 wheelchairs to meet airplanes from certain areas of the world. We have seen as many as 150 requests from one aircraft, which is more than all the wheelchairs we have in the airport.

We are working at the airport to try to grapple with this problem as well. In Vancouver, there are places where you can drop off or be picked up that are very accessible, with wheelchairs nearby.

I wanted to highlight my colleagues who are in smaller airports, but not because I don’t think that they do a good job; in fact, I think in a lot of the smaller ones, it’s much easier to do a good job. Over the past two decades, as I look at airports from coast to coast, they are much more accessible than they were in the past. Everybody has incorporated accessibility into their standards.

You’re right, though: it is not as consistent as it might be across the country.

[Expand]

Hon. Diane Finley:

What do you see as the financial impact of this unfunded mandate, particularly on smaller airports?

[Expand]

Mr. Craig Richmond:

That’s a good question, and that’s why I raised it.

For the most part, I think that anybody who has built a new terminal—and most airports in Canada are new—have conformed to CSA-B651, which is a very good built environment code.

I don’t know what will happen if airports are mandated to be standing at the curb with wheelchairs. That, to me, could be quite a serious cost for smaller airports, and large airports as well.

Also, I think that whatever we can do to make the reporting requirements under this bill as reasonable as possible would go a long way…. Many of the small airports in Canada run with a staff of 20 people. They do all kinds of jobs, and having to add more reports adds more cost and more difficulties for small airports.

I’m not worried so much at the large airport, but obviously we wouldn’t want it to be onerous.

[Expand]

Hon. Diane Finley:

Thank you very much.

Mr. Streiner, you said that you want Canada to be the best in the world, which suggests that we’re not right now. I’d ask who is the best, and what do they do that’s so terrific and to which we should aspire?

[Expand]

The Chair:

Give a very brief answer, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

My very brief answer is that different countries are very successful in different areas. I didn’t mean to suggest, Mr. Chair, that Canada isn’t a leader in some respects in the area of accessibility, but there certainly are other countries that we can learn from.

We can learn from both the successes and the failures, for example, of a piece of legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act. That legislation contributed to significant improvement in accessibility in some areas, but there were also some challenges with its implementation.

We try to learn from the lessons of every jurisdiction that has attempted to advance this issue.

(1830)

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

Now we go over to MP Hogg for six minutes.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg (South Surrey—White Rock, Lib.):

Thank you to all of the witnesses.

You all seem to have a positive outlook in terms of the directions you’re taking and are feeling quite comfortable with that.

I’m following up on MP Finley’s comment or question with respect to referencing. I was wondering how you were going to tell. She stole the question right out of my mouth when she asked about your statement that you wanted to be the best in the world, which clearly we’d like to be.

You’ve referenced some areas that we are worse in and some that we’re better in. What are the areas we need to look at, and what impact would this bill have in terms of being able to turn those around?

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

In respect to transportation, we have a number of areas in Canada where we are clearly ahead of the curve. For example, we were one of the first countries to implement mandatory training requirements in the personnel training regulations that we currently have at the Canadian Transportation Agency. While those regulations aren’t perfect, they drew the attention of service providers to the need to ensure not only that the built environment is accessible and not only that there’s the right equipment, but that personnel are trained in order to interact appropriately with and provide services to people with disabilities.

In other areas we face some significant challenges. What I would say is that there are a few ingredients, I think, to advancing this agenda. One of them is to have a set of modern regulations that draw upon Canada’s experience over the last 25 years since the CTA first got its accessibility mandate and, as I said in response to the member’s question, on best practices in other countries. Our work on those regulations is well advanced.

Bill C-81 will reinforce our regulation-making power, but we already have that power, and it’s pursuant to the current power that we’ve been working on these regulations.

Regulations by themselves are a start, but they’re not enough. There are other ingredients required. We need a strong, proactive compliance assurance program. At the CTA, we’ve been working on creating a program that is risk-based so that we will target our efforts in those areas where the risk of non-compliance or the impact of non-compliance is highest. Bill C-81 adds to the CTA’s compliance tool kit. It gives our compliance enforcement officers additional tools to get out there and to ensure that people are complying.

I think that the third leg, very briefly, is information. It’s making sure that both persons with disabilities and service providers know what their rights and responsibilities are. In addition to a compliance program, the CTA is planning to undertake, should the bill be passed, a very proactive information program for those communities.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

I’m assuming that there is some type of concurrence around the world with respect to what best practices are so that we know what we’re implementing.

If I can quickly go to Craig Richmond, I want to get it on the record to say hi to your dad, who was the Speaker of the House when I was in the legislature, and to your sister, who was my ministerial assistant for a number of years. Please pass along my best wishes to them.

[Expand]

Mr. Craig Richmond:

Yes, sir.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

I haven’t been able to find Valerie’s number recently.

You made reference to thinking that going to legislation was maybe a bit premature, that there were a lot of processes by which we might look at changing and shifting accessibility inclusion, and I assume that you’re talking about how we change the culture and how the culture starts to change.

Can you talk about the changes that have been made at YVR with respect to the culture, particularly in response to what happens with staff?

I know that in some areas I’ve talked to, the staff have been reluctant to respond to some of those initiatives. What is the process of the culture changing so that there’s not a disparity between the culture, values and principles and how those are reflected in the legislation?

[Expand]

Mr. Craig Richmond:

I’m not opposed to the legislation. As Mr. Streiner said, there’s a lot of information out there. Compliance audits are very heavy-handed from the very beginning, and I just hope that it doesn’t come across as heavy-handed, especially at airports that may be a little bit behind.

I think we also have to think about the fact that our building, for example, is the largest building in B.C., and it’s constantly growing. We’re going to need some grandfathering, because we can’t constantly keep it up to the latest standards. We have that in many other aspects of the building, but not in terms of accessibility, because there hasn’t been a standard before.

I think the culture is a good point. Something we’re very proud of in Vancouver is the culture, and it all begins with empathy. We do a lot of training. Our employees are very encouraged, and about 80% of them have spent half of a day in a wheelchair. They also spend time with vision-blocking devices to see what that’s like. I know that the airlines have the same kind of training. I think there is a tremendous amount of empathy for the passenger who is travelling with a disability.

Our culture goes back to the formation of the airport authority back in 1992. When I went there as a young person, I was always very impressed with the attention and care that everybody, from the airport to the airline, is trying to take for persons with disabilities.

(1835)

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Thank you.

To Mr. Desjardins-Siciliano, you made reference to the retrofit that you’re making in the Ottawa station and that you want to see as being the most accessible in the world. Can you describe what that would look like in terms of how different it would be from what it is now?

I assume that in order to make that statement, you’ve looked at some of the other stations around the world. What are the changes that you’ll make to make that accessible and then—?

[Expand]

The Chair:

You have about 30 seconds, I’m afraid.

[Expand]

Mr. Yves Desjardins-Siciliano:

The changes that have been made include a level boarding platform—so they’re eliminating steps or elevators to get into the train itself—and the construction of elevators to allow movement between the floors of the train station.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Do they not exist anywhere else in the world?

[Expand]

Mr. Yves Desjardins-Siciliano:

No, they don’t exist in the Ottawa station. My point is that the combination of all of these—plus the element that I mentioned in terms of people with sight impairments—is new and does not exist anywhere in the world today.

[Expand]

Mr. Gordie Hogg:

Thank you.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you.

MP Hardcastle is next, please, for six minutes.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle (Windsor—Tecumseh, NDP):

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Right now, gentlemen, as I’m sure you’re aware if you’ve read Bill C-81, there are no requirements, there are no timelines. Your jurisdiction in particular, in transportation, is exempt. You do not have to offer a rationalization for a decision. There’s no appeal process for a person in the disability community. Do you think that needs to change before we actually pass Bill C-81?

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

I want to be sure, Mr. Chair, that I understand the question. Perhaps I can give an initial answer, and then if the member feels I haven’t responded—

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

I can repeat it.

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

Certainly.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Right now there is an exemption. You can be exempt—

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

It’s exemption power, right. Okay.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

—without giving a reason, without giving a rationale. If there is a civil activist, if there is someone in the disability community who wants to understand your decision—if any civil society member wants to understand the decision—you don’t have to give that rationalization. Do you believe that any aspect of that should change before Bill C-81 is actually brought to fruition as our first national accessibility act?

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

I want to thank the member for her question. Let me just preface my answer by saying that as the chair of an independent tribunal, I don’t presume to pronounce on policy choices made by the government when it advances legislation or on decisions that Parliament will make on the legislation. I’ll talk a bit about what we do now and how we use our powers. As to your question, “Should the bill change?”, I’ll defer to parliamentarians and to ministers on that.

The—

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Forgive me; I’m extremely limited in my time. I’m the only member of the NDP caucus who sits on this committee and I’m very, very limited to the perspective I want to bring forward.

Having said that, I don’t need to understand where you’re at now. With the bill, you did mention that you are looking towards binding and enforceable regulations. Maybe you can expand on that, and perhaps we can get some of those perspectives on how we can move forward with improvements to binding and enforceable regulation.

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

Absolutely. The only thing I’ll say about exemptions is we actually currently have an exemption power in the law that we have never used.

In terms of the regulations, the regulations that we’re working on will, as I said, integrate two existing regulations and six voluntary codes into a single binding regulation that builds upon the lessons we’ve learned and the feedback we’ve received from disability rights organizations and transportation service providers. Those regulations will cover everything from service delivery to facilities, to equipment, to training, to communications and to reporting. These are comprehensive, across-the-board regulations that are fully enforceable through administrative monetary penalties.

The work on those regulations is well advanced. On October 1, we had a special ad hoc meeting of our accessibility advisory committee and we received some final rounds of feedback from its members. We are looking forward to finalizing those regulations and to rolling them out in 2019.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Gentlemen, does anybody else want to talk about enforcement or binding regulation? How should we be proceeding with that under Bill C-81?

Mr. Richmond, you were concerned about how heavy-handed Bill C-81 is right now. Maybe you can elaborate on areas you think we need to look at in order to proceed successfully.

(1840)

[Expand]

Mr. Craig Richmond:

Well, as I said, I really liked it when Mr. Streiner talked about information packages. I’m speaking for airports now. If an airport is falling short on some important aspect of accessibility—I think we would have heard by now, but you never know—give the airport a lot of information and a lot of opportunity to voluntarily fix what is wrong.

As I said, sometimes that may take some time. Sometimes it’s about grandfathering: For example, going back and fixing a terminal that might be full of asbestos could be a real problem, so you’re just going to say, “Look, I’m going to wait until I demolish that part of the terminal.”

I think that having some flexibility is a good idea, but I’m not saying that to get out of doing the right thing. In fact, without any legislation, I would always make available our rationale for making decisions in the built environment. I would already do that voluntarily.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

What about timelines? Right now this bill doesn’t have any timelines to move forward. You probably have some insight.

Mr. Richmond, you mentioned grandfathering, I think. A few of you have mentioned having a grace period on implementation.

Can anybody elaborate on your thoughts on how you think we can be moving forward to make amendments that improve this bill so it is successful when we implement it?

[Expand]

The Chair:

May we have a very quick answer, please?

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

If it’s helpful to the member, the regulations we’re currently working on do have coming-into-force timelines, timelines by which regulated entities will have to comply with all the regulatory requirements. Those are already in the regulations we have drafted.

[Expand]

Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Is there a grace period in grandfathering?

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

There is a transition period for certain requirements when something new is coming in, but long-standing requirements would simply roll over into the new regulations.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

MP Ruimy, you have six minutes, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge, Lib.):

Thank you very much, everybody, for coming today.

Mr. Richmond, I’m from B.C. I love our airport. It’s a fantastic airport, probably the best airport in Canada, but I’m biased.

It is quite impressive to see the amount of progress that’s been made. When we look at what we want to accomplish, the question is whether we legislate it and regulate it, but some of the top organizations are already doing things.

I remember coming back from a trip overseas a couple of months ago, and I saw a whole bunch of your employees in wheelchairs going through their training. I asked what was going on. It was amazing to see that you’re putting people through the process of learning what it’s like to be in that wheelchair, what it’s like for people who are paralyzed. What challenges are they facing?

What made you get to that point? Nobody came down with a hammer and said you had to do it.

[Expand]

Mr. Craig Richmond:

I appreciate the kind words. It has just been in our DNA from the very beginning. That term has been used, the idea that our people should understand what it’s like. In everything we do, we try to put ourselves in other people’s shoes.

For example, when working with the Rick Hansen Foundation, we realized that once people with assistance dogs go through all the various steps to go to the United States, if their dog has to go to the washroom, what do they do? As a result, we put in a doggy washroom in the transborder area.

To me it’s just customer service. Persons with disabilities are a big part of our customer base. We’re just trying to look after them.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I think this is fantastic. Those are some of the best practices we see across the country.

A lot has been mentioned about timelines today as well as in previous testimony. When will we get this done? We’ve chosen an approach of creating the framework that we could work within.

What are your thoughts on that? Do you think we need to be saying you have to have such-and-such done by this time? I know you mentioned the cost, that you might not be in a position to do things. What would you say to those timelines?

(1845)

[Expand]

Mr. Craig Richmond:

I would have to see the regulations. I’m sure we will have all kinds of time to talk to the CTA about it.

I know from my work in other areas with persons with disabilities that generally businesses want to do the right thing. I don’t disagree that ultimately you have to have that hammer of the fines, but we should just make sure that what we’re looking for in the first case is information and dialogue and that we’re not jumping right to compliance and fines.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

You would like to see flexibility rather than a hard cap on the timeline, rather than a requirement for it to be done by 2020 or 2025 or whatever that might be?

[Expand]

Mr. Craig Richmond:

Certainly, and again, as I said in my remarks, I’m not afraid of this legislation. We’ve been accessible for a long time. I think if there are any areas for us to improve, we will embrace them.

I think a lot of smaller entities out there could be faced with pretty stiff unfunded obligations, as the other MP, Ms. Finley, said. I worry about all those smaller airports inside B.C. that feed Vancouver.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Speaking of unfunded, I keep hearing “What’s the cost going to be?”

With where you are already with your airport—and I know where you’re at—does that bring you a competitive advantage? If so, where?

[Expand]

Mr. Craig Richmond:

We certainly hope so. I think we’re getting known around the world as a very accessible airport, regardless of your handicap and abilities. I think it does give us a competitive advantage. I think airlines know that we’ll look after their passengers.

We don’t look at it as a cost; we look at it as a cost of doing business.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Are you seeing an uptake on accessibility tourism through your airport?

[Expand]

Mr. Craig Richmond:

I think we are. It can be a bit difficult to measure, but when I talk to various groups, they know, through their communities and Internet forums around the world, the places you want to avoid, and we’re certainly not in that category. People feel comfortable transiting through our airport.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

I just want to keep sticking to this advantage, because while obviously there’s always going to be a cost to things, we have to start thinking about the advantage to doing the right thing. We know, and you said it, that people are no longer confined to their homes, we hope. You had a plane that asked for 150 wheelchairs. .

[Expand]

Mr. Craig Richmond:

Right.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

When we look at tourism throughout the country and the world, there are a lot of people who are now wanting, whether or not they’re in a wheelchair, to be able to experience life. To have that advantage, I think, can help pay for it itself if we as a country have these standards that allow freedom of mobility. That’s our competitive advantage for tourism as well. Would you agree?

[Expand]

Mr. Craig Richmond:

I absolutely agree. I just worry about imposing a solution. For example, if we have to build a new transborder terminal and we’re told, “Do this on the old terminal”, that’s just going to be money that gets thrown away if in four years from now we have another part of the terminal that’s opening up. A little flexibility would go a long way.

[Expand]

Mr. Dan Ruimy:

That flexibility that you’re referring to is needed. Thank you very much.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you.

We have MP Diotte for six minutes, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte (Edmonton Griesbach, CPC):

This is for Mr. Desjardins-Siciliano.

You’ve talked about VIA striving to be or being a world leader in accessibility. You should be lauded for that. You said that you use standards from the Canadian council for disabilities to get there, and these standards were deemed acceptable to you.

Would you please comment on the provision in this bill for multiple more years of further consultation to determine standards?

[Expand]

Mr. Yves Desjardins-Siciliano:

Thank you.

I was referring to the fact that at VIA we try to consult with clients before we make major changes to our business practices. Therefore, this client group was consulted in the design of the refit that we’re doing on the old equipment to make it more accessible, as well as the design points for the new equipment that we’re procuring for the corridor.

I must recognize the work of the Canadian Transportation Agency under the leadership of Mr. Streiner, who really are part of that process. They monitor and sometimes they mediate the process in terms of making sure we have all the right parties around the table. They provide an objective environment where we can have these consultations. It has evolved from that regulatory, if you will, environment to one of collaboration between a provider of a service and a customer base.

One point that’s not to be lost here is that by 2030, over 25% of Canadians will be over 65. As I’m getting to that point myself, the reality is that mobility becomes a challenge, not just from a physical aspect but also with eyesight or hearing impairments and other impairments. Therefore, we have to address these issues, because our business depends on it. This is a huge customer segment that you can’t just leave at home.

The fact that we’re a public body and by definition are meant to provide services that private enterprises may be more hesitant to provide does not take away from the commercial opportunity of being a better provider for that audience and target.

The consultation process, I think, exists today within the realm of the CTA, or within the realm of the actual business providers.

(1850)

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

It’s rather redundant, then.

You also talked about VIA Rail being door-to-door accessible, but we do know that not every train station is accessible. I can see one in Trenton, Ontario, that doesn’t have an elevator or any ramps. I’m not certain this would be necessarily unique.

Will this legislation address issues such as this?

[Expand]

Mr. Yves Desjardins-Siciliano:

In situations of an elevator not being available to board a wheelchair on a train, VIA provides ground transportation from the train station nearest the traveller to the train station equipped to lift the chair onto the train, at no cost to that person. That’s the way it is handled today.

Whether this legislation will change that for an existing environment is to be seen. It is our objective to make all of our stations accessible, starting with the fact that the new trains will have on-board elevators, eliminating the need for an off-board elevator that somebody needs to bring to the train to lift a chair. The elevator will be in the train. When the door opens, the elevator will come out of the train, go down to the platform and raise the chair onto the train, eliminating the current constraints. That, by the way, is world leading.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

I have a quick question for Craig Richmond.

In your opening remarks you talked about building accessibility, not bureaucracy and more red tape. Obviously, more reporting is going to really bog everything down. I get your argument that we should be spending money instead on making smaller airports accessible, and so forth. Can you go into a bit more depth on that point?

[Expand]

Mr. Craig Richmond:

I’m speaking for my colleagues from the small airports caucus of the Canadian Airports Council. Every time a regulatory burden falls on them, it’s a lot harder. They don’t have the kind of staff that we do at the top eight airports in Canada. If we’re going to have reporting requirements, we should make them as reasonable and as templated as possible so that small airports aren’t spending an inordinate amount of money and time reporting on what they’re doing; rather, they are just doing it.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Do you find that there’s a lot of red tape and so forth already?

[Expand]

Mr. Craig Richmond:

I live in a very bureaucratic environment. For example, my ground lease says that every five years I have to do a full report on how we’re doing. It costs a lot of money. In fact, we hire two consultants to come in and do it for us, because we’re too busy. Again, I’m not moaning too badly about that, but I worry about my colleagues at the smaller airports.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

Right. It’s money better spent on actually doing accessibility.

How am I doing on time?

[Expand]

The Chair:

You have about 10 seconds.

[Expand]

Mr. Kerry Diotte:

I have a really quick question for Scott Streiner.

You were talking about countries that have best practices. Can you spell out precisely a few of these countries that might be better than we are in certain areas, and specify?

[Expand]

The Chair:

Answer very quickly, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

This question has actually arisen several times. I think it might be better, Mr. Chair, to actually send a letter with a couple of examples of that, because the committee has asked.

I’ll simply note one example. There are a number of airports both in Europe and in Asia where the guiding services and the services for persons with disabilities to get through the airport—the wayfinding services—are first class.

If it’s helpful to the committee, we’ll send a letter with a few additional examples.

(1855)

[Expand]

The Chair:

That is an excellent suggestion. Thank you.

MP Morrissey is next, please.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey (Egmont, Lib.):

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The language I heard from the witness today—and you represent major organizations in the country—is that you’re confident you can meet the objectives. You’re not afraid of the bill. It’s ambitious.

Are there challenges in your day-to-day activities that the bill does not address?

I will first ask Mr. Streiner, with CTA.

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

Of course we’re in a different position from that of my colleagues today, because we’re the regulator and the tribunal.

I would say that the bill is offering us a number of new tools. Since 1988, we’ve had the responsibility of making the national transportation system more accessible. I think we’ve made terrific progress, but there is still a significant distance to be covered. The bill provides us with some additional tools to advance those objectives.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

How do you see this legislation complementing the pending regulatory changes that you referenced quite a bit that you’re currently undergoing? Within this framework, from my perspective, it should give you a clearer understanding of where you should be.

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

Cognizant of time, I’ll give a couple of quick examples.

First of all, we’re going take the lens that the bill presents, particularly the definitions of “disability” and “barrier”, and integrate those into everything we do that’s related to accessibility. The bill does provide a bit of an overarching framework—a way of thinking about accessibility—that the CTA agrees with and will integrate into its work.

More concretely, the additional powers that our enforcement officers will have to go and inspect and impose administrative monetary penalties, if necessary, and to negotiate compliance plans with regulated entities will help our folks in the field working with service providers—like the two represented here today, and hundreds of others—to actually advance accessibility on a day-to-day basis and in a very concrete way. Our folks who are out there every day working with service providers will have new tools to make sure the goals of the legislation and our regulations move forward.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Given that environment and your mandate, will it be easier to achieve that with Bill C-81?

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

Certainly the additional tools that Bill C-81 will give us to advance the mandate will be helpful.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

Okay.

Could you tell us how the CTA currently handles accessibility-related complaints, and how this will change under Bill C-81?

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

I’ll briefly explain for the member and other members that we really do, at the CTA, have two roles: We’re the regulator and we set the rules, but we also hear complaints from individual Canadians or from advocacy organizations about concerns they might have, including those around accessibility.

When somebody comes forward to us with a complaint, the first thing that we try to do is see if we can arrive at a resolution between the complainant and the service provider in an informal way through a mediation or a facilitation process. In many respects, it’s better for all concerned if we don’t have to go all the way to adjudication, which is more court-like. If we’re not able to achieve a resolution through an informal process or if the two parties aren’t interested in engaging in those discussions, then we convene like a court of law. We have all the powers of a superior court. We hear evidence and arguments and we issue binding decisions.

I will tell you that the trend line on accessibility complaints is upward. We received about 25 accessibility complaints in 2014-2015; I think that’s the right year. That number doubled the next year, tripled the next year, and last year, there were about 100 accessibility-related complaints.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

What’s driving that?

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

I think there are a number of drivers. As an organization we’ve made efforts to ensure that persons with disabilities are aware that they can turn to us for assistance if they have an issue.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

It’s awareness.

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

We’ve undertaken public information efforts, but I think generally—and this committee’s work is is an example of this—there is more attention paid today than there was several years ago to accessibility issues and to the fundamental right of people with disabilities to equal access to transportation services.

We’ve contributed as an organization, but I think it’s part of a broader societal trend.

(1900)

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Morrissey:

You didn’t get to the part about what will change under Bill C-81.

[Expand]

Mr. Scott Streiner:

A number of things will change under Bill C-81. As I already mentioned, our compliance officers will have more authority. Regarding administrative monetary penalties, AMPs, the maximum AMP they can impose will go from $25,000 to $250,000. Of course, they’re not going to jump to that AMP in the first instance of non-compliance, but the option is there to go to a much more significant administrative monetary penalty.

The bill would see us administering a participant funding program, which is a way of allowing persons with disabilities to access funding so that they can pursue applications before the CTA that might otherwise be too expensive for them.

Finally, the bill will allow the CTA to undertake inquiries at its own initiative, with the agreement of the Minister of Transport, into systemic accessibility issues. Currently we don’t have that power. We can undertake inquiries if we receive a complaint, but we can’t undertake inquiries on our own initiative that are systemic in nature. If the bill is passed in its current form, we’ll have that authority.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

We will have to stop there. On behalf of the committee, I’d like to thank everybody for being here today and coming to the committee via video conference.

We are going to suspend for just a few moments so that we can switch panels. We will be right back.

(1900)

(1905)

[Expand]

The Chair:

The meeting will come to order. We’re going to get started.

Welcome back, everybody. This is our second panel this evening, and for those who are joining us, I’m not going through the preamble again. I will just remind you that we do have both French and English sign language, and there are no photos at this time.

In opening and closing remarks and in answering any questions, please keep your speech to a fairly even pace. We want to make sure everything is captured appropriately.

Joining us via video conference from Surrey, B.C., is Jewelles Smith, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, and Steven Estey, Government and Community Relations Officer.

We have, in person, from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, Robert Ghiz, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Ursula Grant, Senior Director, Industry Affairs.

Finally, from Communication Disabilities Access Canada, we have Barbara Collier, Executive Director.

Welcome to all of you.

We will start with Jewelles Smith and Steven Estey, from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. The next five minutes are all yours.

(1910)

[Expand]

Ms. Jewelles Smith (Chairperson, Council of Canadians with Disabilities):

I want to thank you for this opportunity to speak with everyone.

We have a number of items that we’ve come to agreement upon through consultations across the country, and I know you’ll hear from many of my colleagues over the next few days.

We are very much hoping that the bill will address the timelines of implementation. We would very much like to see challenging timelines established, such as five years. Canada is not the first country to put accessibility legislation in place, and there are many examples to draw from. We’ve been consulted extensively, and I believe the government could easily meet a five-year timeline for establishing a barrier-free Canada.

We would also like the act to better address effective management in complaints. We think that the fractured current status of the act would make it very difficult for individuals with disabilities to be able to make complaints, and to also have their needs met and their accessibility addressed.

We would also very much like to see ASL and LSQ acknowledged as official languages for deaf individuals. About 45 countries have acknowledged deaf languages to date, and we think that Canada is falling behind in not doing so. This is different from an official status language; this is acknowledging that for deaf people, ASL, LSQ and indigenous signed languages are critical for their ability to have an accessible experience with services and their rights.

We would also like to see the CASDO board composed of a minimum of two-thirds of persons with disabilities. We have seen many examples in the past of boards consisting of 50% plus one, and in those cases, too often our true needs were not met. We would ultimately love to see 100%, but realizing that this may not be possible, we’re asking for two-thirds.

We would also like to see the federal accessibility agencies that are set up to be at arm’s length from government. This would allow them to go about doing their business and better serve the needs of persons with disabilities.

Finally, it’s very important that indigenous people with disabilities be consulted, as currently they are not mentioned in the act. Although indigenous nation-to-nation work is being done, the particular needs of indigenous individuals with disabilities need to be addressed for a fully accessible Canada.

Thank you, and I’ll pass it on to Steve Estey.

[Expand]

Mr. Steven Estey (Government and Community Relations Officer, Council of Canadians with Disabilities):

Thanks very much. I wasn’t actually aware we were splitting our five minutes, so I’ll try and make good use of my two and a half.

We heard over the course of the last few weeks the discussion about the idea of introducing a “no wrong door policy with regard to a complaints mechanism and so on. I just wanted to share with you that within our community, there have been some concerns raised about that. Particularly in the mental health community in Canada, this approach has been used for a number of years, and it’s led to some concerns and problems.

We talked to people with the organization, and they said there were better ways of doing things. The concern with the no wrong door approach is that decisions are made on the inside. There’s no transparency, so there’s a real concern about it. We just wanted to flag that.

The second thing, a little bit more positive, is that we are excited to realize that the act will recognize the Canadian Human Rights Commission as a domestic monitoring mechanism for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. That’s a tremendously important provision. I’m really pleased to see it.

Clause 149 of the bill talks about this specifically, and we wanted to make a suggestion that along with the recognition of the Canadian Human Rights Commission—which is a very important thing—and in tune with the convention itself, consideration be given to language to also flag the participation of individuals with disabilities and our organizations specifically, so that it would be made explicit in a sentence at the end of clause 149 to talk not just about the Human Rights Commission but about organizations of people with disabilities in the same way that the convention makes a distinction between national institutions and organizations of people with disabilities. We felt it was really important to get that in the bill itself so that we can revisit that when the time comes.

Thanks very much.

(1915)

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you both.

From the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, we have Mr. Ghiz and Ms. Grant. The next five minutes are yours.

[Expand]

Mr. Robert Ghiz (President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association):

Great. Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

It’s a pleasure to be here this evening representing the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, which I’ll refer to as the CWTA.

I’m joined this evening by Ursula Grom Grant, our Senior Director of Industry Affairs, who is our lead on accessibility and will most likely be taking the majority of your questions.

CWTA is the authority on wireless issues, developments and trends in Canada. We represent service providers as well as companies that develop products and services for the wireless industry. We are pleased to be here today to share the views of our members regarding Bill C-81.

I would like to begin by confirming that our members strongly support the intent behind this legislation. An accessible Canada is a vision we all support.

Equality, inclusion, full participation—these are the goals of the members of the CWTA that we’re fully behind. If Bill C-81 can bring Canada closer to these goals, then we want to be part of that.

We commend the government for working towards these goals. Indeed, for years, members of the CWTA have been working in concert to ensure the services we provide are accessible to all Canadians. Today our wireless networks offer fast and reliable mobile connectivity with the current generation of wireless technology known as LTE or 4G being available to approximately 98.5% of all Canadians and offering the fastest average download speeds in the G7, twice as fast as the United States.

To make sure as many Canadians as possible can access the benefits of these networks, our members have worked hard in recent years to improve accessibility in relation to telecommunication services. Examples relevant to wireless telecommunications in particular include accessible websites and online content, wireless rate plans to accommodate unique needs, wireless devices that offer accessibility features and functionalities, services like text with 911 and IP relay, special web pages with information on accessible products and services, and accessible formats for bills and other documents and information.

Our members will continue to work hard to address accessibility issues and work collaboratively with stakeholders across Canada to keep improving in this area. In this spirit, we very much welcome the broad thrust of Bill C-81. In particular, the current draft of the legislation addresses several key concerns we shared through the consultation process that preceded the development of the bill.

We are pleased to see the CRTC will continue in its current role with regard to regulation of accessibility. This provides continuity, understanding and clarity to our members. It also ensures Canadians will continue to benefit from public processes that are accessible to Canadians, with binding determinations all stakeholders can understand and follow.

Even as we are pleased to see the CRTC’s continued role, we do have some concerns regarding the details and clarity around next steps. Much of the bill remains aspirational. While the goals are ones we all share and should work toward, it has been difficult to provide feedback without a better and more detailed sense of the regulations that will follow in its wake.

To give one example, while the CRTC will retain jurisdiction over the telecom products and service aspects of a Canadian carrier, another new regulatory body will provide oversight on other parts of the business. In addition, some provincial jurisdictions also have accessibility legislation, and we will need to understand where that fits in. This could work well or it could create unnecessary overlap, duplication and uncertainty, ultimately harming the interests of the very Canadians the legislation is seeking to assist.

The details matter, and the regulations that will be created further to this legislation could have a significant impact, and a potentially negative one, as well. A number of jurisdictions in Canada have similar legislation in place, with applicable standards and goals similar to those in this bill. If we don’t work closely together, competing and possibly contradictory standards could arise, harming the efforts of all concerned.

Therefore, we urge this committee to recognize the importance of continued consultation once Bill C-81 is passed and proclaimed. Moving forward will be an education process for everyone, and our members want to see this happen in the most efficient and effective way possible.

(1920)

[Translation]

The next steps will be a learning opportunity for all the parties involved, and our members hope that it all unfolds smoothly and effectively.

[English]

Thank you for the opportunity, and we will look forward to your questions.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much, sir.

Finally, from Communication Disabilities Access Canada, we have Barbara Collier, Executive Director, for five minutes.

[Expand]

Ms. Barbara Collier (Executive Director, Communication Disabilities Access Canada):

Good evening, committee members. I’m delighted to be here this evening and honoured to represent Communication Disabilities Access Canada. This is a national non-profit organization that promotes accessibility for people who have speech and language disabilities that are not caused by hearing loss.

I need to take a minute to tell you a bit about who we’re talking about, and then to tell you a bit about what access means for them. I’m going to focus on the needs of half a million Canadians who have a wide range of disabilities that affect how they communicate. We’re talking about people who have cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, learning disability, ALS, traumatic brain injury, aphasia after a stroke, Parkinson’s…. I could go on to list about 60 disabilities that affect how people communicate with you in their speech or understand what you’re saying to them.

This is not a small, marginalized population; this is a huge population. It’s a population that has received very little attention. They are off the radar when it comes to looking at accessibility needs of this group. I’m going to tell you how we think Bill C-81 can be strengthened to include the needs of people with speech and language disabilities.

At this time, the bill talks about priority areas. I think there are five or six of them. I’m going to have to reference them—employment, built environment, procurement of goods and services, program and service delivery, transportation, and information and communication technologies.

We propose that communication should be addressed in a much broader context than information and communication technologies. We have analyzed accessibility guidelines standards all across the country, and I can tell you that usually it’s about respect and attitudes, it’s about plain language, it’s about accessible websites, and it’s about alternate formats and sign language. These are incredibly important, but they are not addressing the needs of people who have speech and language disabilities.

I want to say that people who have speech and language disabilities may have difficulty. They may have little or no speech. They may use pictures, letter boards, or speech-generating devices to communicate, or they may have difficulty comprehending what you’re saying.

Communication traditionally is looked at as giving information, getting information into people’s heads. We’re saying it’s about being two-way. It’s about expression and about comprehension, and it occurs in all jurisdictions that interact with the public—in face-to-face interactions, telephone and telecommunications, reading and writing, public forums, and meetings like this. These are the contexts that are important and that people need access to. If we look just at information and communication, we’re going to miss it. We are absolutely going to miss it.

We’re asking the government to amend the bill to include communication as a generic building block that needs to be in place for all jurisdictions—and I’ll explain what I mean by that—but we’re also asking that there’s another building block we need to put in place, and that building block should have everything to do with discrimination, attitudes, accessibility rights, diversity and equity. That’s one building block.

The other block is communication. What we want is that all jurisdictions have training in how to interact with people whose speech may be unclear; who use a communication device; or who have, or need to have, a communication assistant. That’s the sort of thing that will make meaningful changes.

We are then asking that once you have the two domains, the building blocks, in place across the board, you adapt them.

Let’s have our federal courts take the general communication training and then look at their own context. We want communication intermediaries to be available to victims, witnesses and accused who need to communicate in that context.

(1925)

We need Service Canada to be able to communicate with people on the telephone or offer the appropriate text-based communication alternatives.

We need Elections Canada to offer online voting so that people can use their own assistive devices and not suddenly have to learn how to use a sip-and-puff switch or a scanner that they’ve never seen before when they go in to vote.

We have the solutions. The solutions are there. We just need to put them in place, and they are all very achievable.

I’ll say one more thing. I can see you smiling at me, Mr. Chairman, but I don’t get a chance to speak very often.

Most of the barriers and the frustrations for people with speech and language disabilities are there because they have no access to communication devices and the supports they need to access the services. They would like the federal government to expand its role, not just to negotiate accessibility standards across the country but to work together with us to ensure that people have what they need to communicate with their services.

Are the lights dimming at this point? I think they are. The music is coming on.

[Expand]

The Chair:

The band is about to play, yes.

[Expand]

Ms. Barbara Collier:

Thank you very much.

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

First up with six minutes of questions is MP Falk. Go ahead, please.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk (Battlefords—Lloydminster, CPC):

Thank you all for being here today.

I have a question for Ms. Smith.

You mentioned deaf languages and having those officially recognized. Could you explain to me what you mean by that and how that would be achieved?

[Expand]

Ms. Jewelles Smith:

Sure.

Having deaf languages recognized federally would ensure that when a deaf person goes in to get their passport or goes through the court system or accesses any other services, their language will be recognized as the way they communicate. That is one example.

Another example would be ensuring that all important documents that the federal government produces have a video of ASL and LSQ available for deaf individuals to watch so that they will understand the document better. The syntax and structure of deaf languages are quite different from those for written English and French, and many times deaf individuals struggle when trying to access languages. Much as we’re encouraging plain language with the accessibility act, we would also like to see added the recognition of ASL and LSQ, and, as conversation progresses with indigenous communities, of any of the indigenous signed languages.

(1930)

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Thank you.

Even in our last meeting we talked about plain language. Ms. Collier, I’m wondering if you could touch on this for me. How are stakeholders or the disability community looking to have that implemented into Bill C-81? I understand what plain language means, but how would that be put into legislation?

[Expand]

Ms. Barbara Collier:

Well, if you take what I’ve said about communication as an umbrella and you prioritize that as the domain that needs to be addressed, then plain language falls into reading and writing within that. It’s part of that. You know what plain language is. I see it as fitting very much into the communication domain, but it won’t fit if you’re just going to use information and communication technologies. There’s no place to plug it into that. There needs to be a bigger picture of it.

I don’t know if I’ve answered your question. I’m not sure.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Do you mean as in referencing plain language?

[Expand]

Ms. Barbara Collier:

What do you mean?

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

I understand how it could be used day to day, but how do we put that into legislation or even the regulations? Is there a better fit for that to be—either legislation or regulation?

[Expand]

Ms. Barbara Collier:

I’m not a policy-maker on that, but I can certainly see how it would fit into a standard that says written material has to be accessible and follow the principles of easy-to-read or plain language.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Does anybody else have anything to add?

[Expand]

Ms. Jewelles Smith:

I think this also can fall under the conversation about adding communication as a specific barrier. We currently have under the act six identified barriers that would be focused on. We strongly think that communication is the seventh. In the regulation and development, it would become addressed.

I know there is a lot of push to have plain language and ASL and LSQ used and to also look at communication in general, much as my colleague Barbara talked about, but we strongly feel that it falls under that area that wasn’t identified specifically.

Thanks.

[Expand]

Mrs. Rosemarie Falk:

Thank you.

I have another question. I want to understand timelines and what different stakeholders or different people within the disability community find acceptable as a timeline. I’ve heard a lot, even from individual meetings that I’ve had in my offices, but nobody has been able or willing to give me a timeline that would be sufficient. I’m wondering if I could hear from everybody in order to know what would be proposed as a timeline to be added to the legislation.

[Expand]

Ms. Jewelles Smith:

I know that I brought it up. CCD is part of a larger group of disability organizations, and we worked really hard over a period of several days to work this out. I’m going to read for you the language that we’ve established:

For substantive and progressive change:
A deadline date must be set within a five-year period following Royal Assent for [approval of] ALL standards and regulations in each specific area required.
A deadline for full implementation of each standard and regulation, following their approval, must be set within [an] 18-month period.
It must be understood that there will always be continual progression towards a barrier-free society. [It’s] not realistic to think that a deadline date will mark full compliance or completion…[but] a review must occur every three years and a public report of progress must be developed….

[Expand]

The Chair:

Thank you very much.

MP Long is next, please.

(1935)

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Mr. Wayne Long (Saint John—Rothesay, Lib.):

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to our witnesses this evening. I really appreciate your testimony. It’s very enlightening.

I certainly know this: At the last meeting I talked about where I live in Saint John—Rothesay and coming upon a lady in a wheelchair who literally was waiting to get from the car park into the mall. My question was, “Why are you waiting here?” There was no way for her to get in unless somebody opened that door and let her in. This is a public spot in my city, so…. Bill C-81 is going to break down barriers. It’s going to open up the world for people with disabilities.

This is for Ms. Smith and Mr. Estey. I want to thank you, Ms. Smith, for taking the time to come to my office. We met here I think a couple of weeks ago. I really appreciated the conversation. I want to follow up on something we talked about: the composition of the CASDO board.

I know that we talked about it in the office in terms of 50% plus one, and I know you don’t think that’s good enough. I certainly respect that. I know that you want to see 70%.

From my past experience as a businessperson involved in different boards, I’ll say that the composition of boards is critical, whether it’s a bank, a hockey team, CASDO or what have you. We continue to hear from Ms. Smith in particular and from other witnesses, too, about their concern about the composition of the board.

Do you want to elaborate on that? You talked about how you would like to see 70%. There are those who suggest that the language in subclause 23(2) be amended to ensure that members of the CASDO board with lived experience with disabilities represent, as much as is practically possible, the diversity of disability communities in Canada. Can the language of subclause 23(2) be amended? Can you share with us again the importance of the composition of the CASDO board?

Thank you.

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Ms. Jewelles Smith:

Thank you. It’s great to see you again.

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Mr. Wayne Long:

It’s good to see you, too.

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Ms. Jewelles Smith:

We would like to see the largest possible percentage. I would love to see 100%. People with disabilities exist everywhere, and there is no reason that people with particular expertise couldn’t use their situation of employment to sit on the CASDO as well, but we are willing to go as low as two-thirds.

As I mentioned before, on 50% plus one, we’ve seen many boards like that, and often what happens is that the “plus one” gets convinced not to attend the meetings, so they don’t vote in favour of things that would be progressive for us, and that sort of thing. I also think Minister Qualtrough clearly stated we need to move beyond the slogan “nothing about us without us” to just “nothing without us”. We need to always be there. We always need to be at the table.

I’m a Ph.D. candidate myself. I have plenty of colleagues who are experts in their fields. There is no reason this composition can’t be diverse and fully realize us at the table.

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Mr. Wayne Long:

You came up with 70%. You mentioned 70% in our meeting. Why not 100%?

Is it necessary to allocate seats to members of each disability community on the board?

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Ms. Jewelles Smith:

I personally was advocating for 100%. With FALA, which was the group we were meeting, we agreed as a group to say 70% or two-thirds.

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Mr. Wayne Long:

You’d like to see 100%.

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Ms. Jewelles Smith:

I would like to see 100%, and I think that diversity can be represented. It’s not a checklist. It’s looking at the composition of a group and understanding that our population is quite diverse. It’s not just having people represented, checking off that we have one deaf person, one person using a wheelchair and one person with vision impairment. Looking at diversity and looking at access and knowledge would be really critical.

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Mr. Wayne Long:

Thank you very much.

Mr. Estey, do you have anything you want to contribute to that?

Wait…okay, sorry.

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Mr. Steven Estey:

Thanks.

I communicate with captioning. I’m deaf, and it takes a second or two for it to come up on the screen. It’s not that I’m not paying attention.

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Mr. Wayne Long:

My apologies.

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Mr. Steven Estey:

Jewelles has made the point quite clearly, I think. She has talked about diversity in the disability community and the discussion we’ve had since the bill was tabled around the representation—the number of people and the percentages on these boards, and so on.

We started off looking at it by saying that 50% plus one would probably be okay, but there’s been a real push by some members of the community to have a higher level of representation, and it goes particularly to the diversity of the disability experience and the concern that if you only have 50% of the people, then you may not have a wide enough perspective on a particular issue. We want to ensure that’s the case here. As I understand it, that’s the rationale.

(1940)

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Mr. Wayne Long:

Thank you.

Ms. Collier, would you comment?

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Ms. Barbara Collier:

I would agree with two-thirds, and the reason is that when we talk about communication access, we’re talking about a very diverse population. People who have been born with a disability that makes it very difficult for them to learn language and literacy are very different from people who have had a stroke and have had language. You can’t have one or two people represent the whole diverse population of communication disabilities.

We would support absolutely that you need representation on the standards committee of people with lived experience, but you also need representatives of the disability organization that can speak to the larger scope of things, because people with communication disabilities are not necessarily speech language pathologists with masters and Ph.D.s in communication disabilities. You need both.

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The Chair:

Thank you very much.

MP Hardcastle is next, please, for six minutes.

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Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thank you very much.

I’d like to go back to Mr. Estey and Ms. Smith. Can you talk a little more about the real operational independence of the new agencies? There was concern about that independence in reporting to government, and perhaps they should be reporting directly to Parliament.

Would you talk about the independence of organizations like CASDO, the accessibility commissioner, and the chief accessibility officer?

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Mr. Steven Estey:

I think our preference would be for a mechanism to be put in place for direct reporting to Parliament because of the whole independence issue. We certainly would support that approach and a revision to that effect.

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Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Ms. Smith, on the independence of the new offices, would you like to see reporting to Parliament?

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Ms. Jewelles Smith:

We would very much like to see that.

We feel, to some extent, that the way Bill C-81 is currently set up, with a number of fractured reporting systems, might be problematic. We’ve dealt with a couple of those organizations as the disability community, and we’ve had multiple barriers. It’s important to have that arm’s-length reporting in order to address some of those barriers and challenges, and also to set up a fresh mechanism that wouldn’t necessarily operate under the mandate of the current government, but rather under the mandate of the disability community.

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Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Thank you.

Ms. Collier, can you elaborate a bit on your concern with regard to entities, organizations or jurisdictions that would be exempted right now under the proposed bill? Do you have any concerns that perhaps we should look at amendments, or at least allow for an appeal process, or that decisions have to be provided when exemptions are made?

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Ms. Barbara Collier:

I’m hoping I understand your question. Are you asking about the CRTC exemptions?

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Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Yes. The CRTC—

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Ms. Barbara Collier:

I would apply the generic communication training and information to all jurisdictions, especially the CRTC and transportation. They would be included in this on how to communicate with people and what their barriers are.

I can speak a little about some of the concerns for the CRTC.

First, I need to say that we have never surveyed people with speech and language disabilities. We have no data to research that population and the barriers they face, so what I’m telling you is anecdotal.

They say that there are message relay services available to people with hearing loss. They say that they are available for people who are speech impaired. People who have dysarthria—slurred speech due to cerebral palsy or a stroke—are saying that the operators have no training in how to facilitate speech-to-speech for them, so they don’t use it.

It’s also not known; it’s not marketed to them. We could see an enormous opportunity to expand that service for people with speech and language…. Smart phones are being used more and more by people with disabilities. We have people in long-term care facilities who need phones in order to leave the hospital and live in the community safely. The problem is with the cost of the phone and with the switch access to the phone, because they can’t operate it with their fingers, and there’s no funding for this.

Also, I’m hearing it’s the data plan and the plans for telephone use that may be there for Internet. I’m not an expert on this, but I’m hearing there are major concerns in keeping up with the technology, specifically for people with communication disabilities who are not deaf or hard of hearing.

It’s also transportation, across the board.

(1945)

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Ms. Cheryl Hardcastle:

Ms. Smith, can you give us some of your comments with regard to concerns about exemptions?

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Ms. Jewelles Smith:

We’re concerned that the exemptions will result in continued barriers for individuals with disabilities. We have dealt with the CRTC and other groups that would fall under some of these exemptions for decades. Whenever there’s an opportunity for them to have an exemption, they choose not to move forward with the mandate of accessibility. We feel very strongly that this act should clear a path to remove those barriers and to address the issues that are not that difficult.

As my colleague has just mentioned, there are opportunities with smart phones. There is training available, and a wealth of research showing that these exemptions should not be there and that a barrier-free Canada is possible. We just have to decide to do it as a nation.

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The Chair:

Thank you very much.

MP Sangha, you have six minutes, please.

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Mr. Ramesh Sangha (Brampton Centre, Lib.):

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you very much, everyone, for coming here and giving this input.

My question is to Ms. Smith. You’re talking about the Canadian accessibility standards organization. I know this is going to be a very exclusive type of organization that is going to make better standards and bring changes into the regulations.

You talked about the difficulty of complaints, and you wanted some sort of reforms. What type of reforms are you looking for to have a better complaint process?

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Ms. Jewelles Smith:

In the current way that the bill is written, the complaints can come forward in many different ways. I know that the government has so far been pushing for a “no wrong door” approach, but we’re concerned that individuals will have a complaint and not know who they should go to, or go through the wrong door, and possibly it could take two or three years to resolve an issue.

What we would like to see is that CASDO be responsible for developing the regulations and that the reporting of any complaints go through one organization. Whether that organization has individuals underneath—for example, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and then potentially several individuals underneath who would manage complaints—people would know where they go when they have a complaint about federal accessibility. It wouldn’t be that you might go to the CRTC for this complaint, and you might have to call Service Canada for that complaint, or you might have to call a specific airline for another complaint: there would be one place for people to call and have their complaints directed, one organization to develop the regulations and to provide a disability lens in the writing of those regulations. I don’t mean any disability lens; I mean a human rights disability lens.

I would also like to see work on the intersectionality that I know government has attempted to do through the gender-based analysis plus, which has not been very successful for the disability community, which is why we strongly feel that having one organization responsible for the complaints and for the management of regulations is critical: it’s so that across the board we have equal access and a clear understanding of barriers and what accessibility looks like.

Thank you.

(1950)

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Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

Second, when we are looking for a barrier-free Canada, and we want it now and we want things to follow as soon as possible, why are you looking for a five-year timeline?

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Ms. Jewelles Smith:

Canada has done a lot of work in several of our provinces on accessibility and disability legislation. We also have the example of numerous countries around that world that have done this work already. We’re not reinventing the wheel. We have great examples. We also know of some of the challenges and issues that have occurred during the consultation process over the last two and a bit years. The government has gathered much information on accessibility that works in other countries and in our own. We feel that setting up extremely long timelines will just result in our perhaps not living to see a barrier-free Canada.

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Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

Do you think a five-year timeline will provide better resolutions than immediately taking action now?

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Ms. Jewelles Smith:

Where we can, immediate action is critical. There are things that are easily done right away. We’re saying five years for the regulations and such to be fully set up within the new organizations that are being developed.

We know there is some work in setting up a new department. We understand there is some work in setting up and reviewing regulations and making sure provincial and federal don’t misalign and that there won’t be problems in that sense. We also want to hurry along the process. We don’t think it needs to take 20 years. Whatever is possible, we would love to see it done within a year. We’re also recognizing that government has an election coming up too.

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Mr. Ramesh Sangha:

Thank you.

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The Chair:

Thank you very much.

MP Ruimy is next.

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Mr. Dan Ruimy:

Thank you very much.

Thank you everybody for being here.

I will say up front that I will be sharing my time with Parliamentary Secretary Young.

This thing with timelines has been going around my head. When I was listening to your testimony, Ms. Collier, it actually just clicked to me as to why we shouldn’t be putting timelines in the legislation. It’s because the things you’re mentioning are enormous. There are so many different things that are out there that if we start to try to legislate every single piece, we won’t get to where we need to go. I see this as an evolution of this whole process, because technology is changing and people are changing, and when you try to legislate that change it actually stops you from moving forward.

I don’t have any question, I just needed to share that with you.

I’m going to let PS Young take over.

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Ms. Kate Young (London West, Lib.):

Thank you very much.

I think you did want to mention something or say something to Dan’s comment.

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Ms. Barbara Collier:

I just want to say that I was stressing the scope of the issue of communication access, but I think it’s very doable. Ninety per cent of what I am talking about is education, and I think we have the education resources that could be put in place. What we need is a standard stating that everyone needs training about how to communicate with people who communicate in different ways. It’s very doable.

The other part is that developing the intermediaries for the federal courts and the communication assistance to assist people at public forums is going to take longer. That’s a support service that needs to be developed, in the same way that sign language services have been developed. However, I think it’s very doable, and it’s not a huge cost to educate people.

Thank you for your question and for bringing that up.

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Ms. Kate Young:

Thank you very much for your input.

I want to read a quote that our Minister of Accessibility Qualtrough said when she was appearing before the committee. It was about timelines, and I think it’s important for us to hear what the minister was saying and why she is thinking that timelines are not necessary. She said:

We also want people to get moving on this now. We don’t want to say that we are going to have an accessible Canada by 2025 or 2030, and then people sit back and say, “Okay, I have time.” We need to do this now. It’s like giving people a reason to wait instead of requiring people to do something now.

Given that we want to spur immediate action, do you believe that timelines will help speed up the action to get us where we need to get to?

Mr. Estey, would you like to take that on?

(1955)

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Mr. Steven Estey:

Sure. I’ll give it a shot.

I come from Nova Scotia, and we’ve just gone through the process of developing accessibility legislation in our province. When the first reading happened in Nova Scotia, there were no timelines in the legislation at all, so the disability community got up in arms about that and were concerned about the lack of any kind of timeline. The concern was that if you don’t have a wall against which to backstop things, then how do you measure your progress and how do you compel people to do something without a fixed date?

We were able to get the Government of Nova Scotia to put a fixed date in the legislation. We’ve had some discussion about that experience federally since June 21, when the legislation was tabled without a fixed date.

What I have heard, as I think Jewelles mentioned, is the idea of not having one particular date globally, but to look at it in segments of different areas or different pieces of the legislation. It’s a very complicated thing, Bill C-81, and to say that one date fits all is going to create difficulties, I think.

However, at the same time, without some kind of a firm wall-like backstop against which to measure, as a disability community, we have a concern that it’s never going to come—don’t worry about tomorrow because tomorrow never comes.

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Ms. Kate Young:

Isn’t flexibility important? I’m not sure if—

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Mr. Steven Estey:

I’m having technological problems here.

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Ms. Kate Young:

Okay.

I just wanted to insert the word “flexibility” into what you’re saying is necessary, and not a direct timeline.

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Mr. Steven Estey:

Sure. I think that there can be flexibility, but I do think that there needs to be some way for us to measure things, so some kinds of timelines and deadlines need to be negotiated at some point. I’m not sure exactly what that point is.

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The Chair:

Thank you very much.

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Ms. Kate Young:

Thank you.

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The Chair:

We have just shy of two minutes left.

MP Finley, would you like to close this out?

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Hon. Diane Finley:

Before I submit a question, I do have a comment.

There is so much flexibility in this bill as it’s written that it never has to come into force. The standard provision in any bill is a coming-into-force date. That does not exist. Even if the bill passes and gets royal assent, there is absolutely no requirement for the government to bring it into effect. That means that all the good talk here, all the good intentions, will go nowhere. I have a real problem with that.

My question is for Mr. Ghiz. Given your unique background as a legislator and also as one who is in many cases representing the private sector now, what are your reactions to the differences in requirements for government departments and federally regulated industries and interests—exemptions that apply to government departments that choose not to participate versus the private sector, or things like penalties for non-compliance?

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Mr. Robert Ghiz:

Good question.

I do want to touch a bit on timelines. I realize what the minister said, but I’ll back up what Ms. Young said about flexibility. When you used to bring in legislation, if you put a specific timeline on something and you missed that timeline, you were going to be criticized and you were going to have a lot of difficulty. I think flexibility with regard to any legislation is extremely important.

Also, I want to go back and talk about making sure that the consultations and everyone involved at the table is there. I go with Mr. Estey, too, and I call it a bit of a catch-22. If you don’t have a timeline, then you could say “Let’s get it done right away” because otherwise it may not compel people to deal with things right away. There is a catch-22 there, but I think that if you work with the word “flexibility”, you’ll find a way to get there and keep everyone at the table.

With regard to different provisions, you have to realize that uniqueness exists and that there have to be some special provisions while ensuring that everyone realizes why they’re in place. I think people talked about education. It’s going to be a key to that understanding.

The CRTC is responsible for certain areas. We heard from the airport folks. I think we are unique. There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. I do agree with Ms. Smith, who mentioned that there is a plethora of information out there, and different provinces are doing things, as well as other countries. We don’t need to copy what everyone else does, but we can pick and choose what best fits Canadian society.

(2000)

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The Chair:

Thank you very much.

I have to cut it there, unfortunately.

I wanted to take the opportunity to thank all of you for helping us with the study of this bill and for being here today and joining us via video conference. Thank you to my colleagues, and of course, as always, to everybody who makes today possible. There are more of you on this study than normal. Thank you all very, very much.

We are adjourned.



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