The Psalmist proclaims that they are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and names their wonder of God in creating their very being (Psalm 139). The United Church believes that we are all created in the image of God, and the church is committed to affirming people of all abilities.

The second reading of Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, was introduced in the House of Commons by Minister of Public Works and Government Services Carla Qualtrough on September 26, 2018. The bill is now before the Senate for further study. While the legislation is helpful movement in the right direction, more than 100 provincial and national disability rights organizations have already written to Minister Qualtrough to express significant concerns regarding the legislation.

The current Accessible Canada Act has “definite strengths—and areas where it could be stronger,” wrote United Church member Tracy Odell in this blog post responding to the bill’s first reading. Among other recommendations, Odell points to adding a specific timeline for the proposed changes as well as a central federal body that registers and follows up on accessibility complaints as ways in which the proposed Act could be made more effective.

The Government of Canada has started the process of developing technical regulations to support Bill C-81 should it get passed into law. These regulations will set out requirements for federal organizations to follow when they develop accessibility plans. It will also establish penalties for organizations that do not comply with accessibility standards.

As part of the regulatory development process, the Government of Canada is required to consult with Canadians before the bill becomes law, and this pre-consultation process is already underway.

Be a part of the process to make the Accessible Canada Act stronger! Have your say!

Take Action

  1. E-mail the accessible-canada [at] hrsdc.gc.ca (Accessibility Secretariat) to provide input to the regulatory development pre-consultation process.
  2. Submit your feedback on the proposed Accessible Canada Act directly to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science, and Technology. Let the United Church know if you submit something to the Senate's Committee by justice [at] united-church.ca (subject: Accessible%20Canada%20Act) (sending an e-mail).
  3. Share this action with your networks, using the hashtags #UCCan, #CdnPoli, #AccessibleCanada. On Twitter, tag @JusticeUCC and your member of Parliament.
  4. Learn more about how the Accessible Canada Act could affect someone living with a disability by reading Tracy Odell’s personal reflection. For further background, see the video below: Is Canada’s New Accessibility Legislation Strong Enough?
  5. View the recordings of webinars from this dynamic series that explored a variety of topics related to disabilities and the church. The webinars took place between October 2018 and March 2019.
  6. Explore what the United Church is doing to become an open, accessible, and barrier-free church, where there is full participation of people with disabilities.

Background

Almost 3.8 million Canadians (about 14 percent of the population) identify as having a disability. The proposed Accessible Canada Act was developed after “extensive consultation with Canadians with disabilities,” and aims to “identify, remove and prevent” accessibility barriers in areas that fall under federal jurisdiction. The United Church welcomes Bill C-81, which had its first reading on June 20, 2018.

Send your letters and e-mails to:
Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology
The Senate of Canada
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A4
E-mail: soci [at] sen.parl.gc.ca (subject: Accessible%20Canada%20Act)

Send copies of your letters and e-mails to:
Christie NeufeldtProgram Coordinator Public Witness416-231-7680 ext. 4078
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4078
cneufeldt [at] united-church.ca

For more information, contact:
Adele HallidayTeam Leader Discipleship and Witness416-231-7680 ext. 2756
1-800-268-3781 ext. 2756
ahalliday [at] united-church.ca