People with disabilities make up around 22 per cent of Canada’s population, says Statistics Canada
The Law, Disability and Social Change Project at the University of Windsor Faculty of Law has marked Canada’s National AccessAbility Week, which took place from May 30 to June 5, with the release of The Annotated Accessible Canada Act.
The free new online resource covers the key parts of An Act to ensure a barrier-free Canada, SC 2019, c 10, commonly known as the Accessible Canada Act, from the perspective of interested individuals who may use it, including people with disabilities, advocates, lawyers, disability rights researchers and scholars, to assist them in interpreting and understanding the implications of the legislation and the rights arising under it.
Dr. Laverne Jacobs, director of the Law, Disability and Social Change Project and professor and associate dean at Windsor Law, led the development of the resource, which was co-authored by Tom Perry and Rachel Rohr (JD 2020), student researchers, and Martin Anderson (LLB 1997), lawyer, supported by Nadia Shivratan, a second-year law student.
“Our annotated statute provides information for many different types of knowledge-users, including members of the disability community, disability rights advocates, people interested in the history of the statute and in comparisons with other accessibility legislation (such as researchers and scholars), and the general public,” said Jacobs, who noted that annotated statutes have usually been very legalistic and designed for practising lawyers.
The Law, Disability and Social Change Project released an excerpt of the resource in December 2020 and has now posted the complete text version on the project’s website, on the University of Windsor’s Scholarship Repository and through the Canadian Legal Information Institute.
The Accessible Canada Act, which came into force on July 11, 2019, is the country’s first federal legislation that focuses on accessibility for persons with disabilities. It seeks to work toward achieving a “Canada without barriers” by Jan. 1, 2040 by eliminating disability barriers in the economic sectors within federal jurisdiction under s. 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, including federal works and undertakings; parliamentary entities like the Senate and the House of Commons; the Canadian Forces; businesses and organizations like banks, airlines, railways and interprovincial transportation carriers; and Crown corporations like Canada Post. The legislation provides numerous exceptions, leading to a patchwork approach.
Statistics Canada reported in 2017 that people with disabilities comprise 22 per cent of Canada’s population who are 15 years old and above, or over seven million people, out of the population of approximately 38 million.
The Law, Disability and Social Change Project, established in 2014, aims to respect the voices of people with disabilities, to help empower them to fully attain their rights, to promote inclusive communities and to advance the motto “nothing about us without us.”