Accessible Canada Act

Enacted in 2019, the Accessible Canada Act is designed to make Canada barrier-free by January 1, 2040.

It applies to the federally regulated private sector, which includes the banking, transportation, and telecommunications industries, as well as the Government of Canada, Crown corporations (any corporation that is established and regulated by a country’s state or government), and Parliament.


Identify, Remove, and Prevent Barriers

The Act focuses on identifying, removing, and preventing barriers in federal jurisdiction in the following priority areas:

  • Employment
  • Buildings and public spaces
  • Information and communication technologies
  • Communication, other than information and communication technologies
  • The procurement of goods, services, and facilities
  • The design and delivery of programs and services
  • Transportation (airlines, as well as rail, road, and marine transportation providers that cross provincial or international borders)

Communication, as a priority area, includes the use of:

  • American Sign Language
  • Quebec Sign Language
  • Indigenous sign languages

Under the Act, organizations are required to develop and publish accessibility plans, and establish a mechanism for receiving and addressing feedback on accessibility from anyone who interacts with their organization.


The Accessible Canada Act also established new structures and positions, including:

  • The Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, led by a board of directors comprised of a majority of persons with disabilities, that develops accessibility standards in collaboration with the disability community and industry. The standard set by this group, unlike regulations, are voluntary. However, if the government makes a standard into a regulation, the standard becomes mandatory
  • A Chief Accessibility Officer who advises the Minister of Accessibility and monitors existing and emerging accessibility issues
  • An Accessibility Commissioner who spearheads compliance and enforcement activities under the legislation

Individuals have the right to file complaints against an organization that has not complied with the Act. These complaints generally will go to the Accessibility Commissioner, who will deal with complaints in all the areas for which they are responsible. From a media and entertainment perspective, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission will deal with complaints related to accessibility in the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors.