A provincial guide to accessibility laws in Canada

A provincial guide to accessibility laws in Canada

More and more, we rely on the online world to navigate our day-to-day lives. Websites and web content should be accessible to all Canadians, which is why federal and provincial governments are working towards providing more comprehensive accessibility standards, so no Canadian is left behind.

The Accessible Canada Act

The Accessible Canada Act, or Bill C-81, is a proposal set to create a barrier-free environment for Canadians with disabilities.

A barrier is anything that would limit, or not allow, a person with disabilities to be included. Inclusion involves all areas of life, such as the physical and online world.

The fundamental principle of the Act is to create a barrier-free world for all Canadians.

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)

The 2005 AODA legislation made Ontario the first province to implement far-reaching accessibility requirements that lead the charge for other provinces to follow suit.

The deadline for businesses with 50+ employees and at least one employee working in the province to comply with the AODA was January 1st, 2021. Due to the pandemic, the filing deadline has been extended to June 30th, 2021. Ontario plans to lower the threshold to businesses with 20+ employees soon.
If not followed, organizations can be fined up to $100,000 per day until they meet accessibility compliance.

The AODA requirements are from the WCAG 2.1 (Web Content Accessibility Guide), penned by the Worldwide Consortium (W3E). This is an international community that develops open standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web.

For more information on WCAG, read our blog post detailing the guidelines here.

The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA)

Becoming law in 2013, the AMA strives to create a more inclusive Manitoba by 2023, by removing barriers for all Manitoba citizens.

Communications is part of the five accessibility standards set out by the Act, which includes barrier-free access to online content.

The guidelines are still under development but will closely follow the standards set out by the AODA, including the WCAG standards.

The Nova Scotia Accessibility Act

In 2017, Nova Scotia became the third province in Canada to enact accessibility legislation which includes among its six components, websites, and web content.

Still under the planning stage, the Act includes WCAG 2.0 AA standards for government websites which will trickle down to other organizations.

Currently, timelines and fines differ for each of the six components but could be up to $250,000.

Quebec’s Act to Secure Handicapped Persons in the Exercise of their Rights with a View to Achieving Social, School and Workplace Integration

First enacted in 1978, and later amended in 2004 to include the web, Quebec’s Accessibility Act adheres to WCAG 2.0 Standards for the public sector only. Even so, there is criticism that the Act does not have strong timelines, adherences, or penalties, and is currently under review.

British Columbia Accessibility Act (Bill M 219)

Proposed in 2018, the Act aims to have an accessible British Columbia by 2024. The Act will also include WCAG 2.0 AA standards for websites, although the guidelines are still unknown.

Regardless of the province or territory, it is vital that your website is inclusive for all Canadians. With over 6.2 million Canadians living with a disability that impacts the way they negotiate the online world, we should all do our part to make their online experience barrier-free.

How Trufla can help:

All websites added to Trufla’s truWeb platform starting in 2021 will meet and exceed the WCAG 2.1 AA standards. So if you’re planning to move to our platform, you will meet the requirements.

If you’re not currently on truWeb, not to worry, we have software we can use to optimize your existing site to meet provincial accessibility standards.

We can score your site and let you know what you need to do to meet requirements. Send an email to thomas.b@trufla.com.

Sources:
Statcan
Government of Canada