New accessibility legislation falls short

PSAC strongly believes that persons with disabilities should be able to fully and equitably participate in all aspects of Canadian society.

However, the union has alerted a House of Commons committee to problems with the proposed Canada Accessibility Act (Bill C-81) when representatives appeared as witnesses on October 18. (PSAC appears at 9:30)

The new law gives no indication of how it and the current federal Employment Equity Act will work together, nor does it require employers to consult and work with unions in preparing accessibility plans.

“The Employment Equity Act already requires employers to create plans to eliminate barriers in employment for persons with disabilities,” said PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President for the Prairies Marianne Hladun. “While this act isn’t perfect, it does provide an established framework that employers and unions have been working with for many years.”

PSAC is recommending a change to Bill C-81 to say that accessibility in employment must be handled under the Employment Equity Act.

Other recommendations include:

  • Undertaking a long-overdue review and update of the Employment Equity Act
  • Centralizing disability-related issues and accessibility in the federal public service by returning the responsibilities that have been devolved to departments to Treasury Board and the Public Service Commission, and
  • Requiring Treasury Board to set up a central accommodation fund for the public service

“The proposed complaints process in Bill C-81 is also flawed because it allows workers covered under all the public service labour laws to use the grievance process to deal with their complaints but does not do the same for federal public and private sector workers covered by the Canada Labour Code,” said Hladun. “Anyone who has a collective agreement should be able to use their grievance process for these complaints.”

Read PSAC’s submission to the House of Commons Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities Committee.

October 18, 2018