Accessibility legislation questions and answers
What does accessibility mean?
The word accessibility combines the words access and ability. Accessibility means being able to access places, information, and services without barriers. The goal of accessibility is for people of all abilities to participate fully in everyday life.
Saskatchewan’s proposed legislation seeks to achieve accessibility by preventing and removing barriers that keep people with disabilities from being able to reach, understand, and use the places, information, and services in our province.
What is accessibility legislation?
Accessibility legislation is written law aimed at preventing and removing accessibility barriers for people with disabilities. The legislation will be made up of an act and regulations. The act is a law that sets out the framework for the legislation and gives people or organizations specific responsibilities, including the responsibility to make regulations. Before regulations can be created, the act must be passed by the Saskatchewan Legislature.
What are accessibility standards?
Accessibility standards are specific guidelines and actions to bring Saskatchewan communities up to a consistent level of accessibility. Accessibility standards will be included in the regulations for accessibility legislation.
How can I provide input on accessibility legislation?
The first phase of public engagement on accessibility legislation closed on March 31, 2021. We heard from over 1,300 Saskatchewan residents who gave us their input on the development of an accessibility act. The act is the foundation of the legislation and sets out key definitions, key areas for regulations, responsibility for creating regulations and standards, how to make sure rules are followed, how the act and regulations will be implemented, and the timeframe in which the act and regulations must be implemented.
As we begin work on the regulations under the act, there will be more opportunities for the public to provide input on the development of standards in the key areas set out in the act.
How long will it take to create the legislation?
We will work to have an accessibility act drafted as soon as possible. Once the act is drafted, it will be introduced in the legislature and go through three readings before being approved and passed into law.
Regulations under the act will take additional time because we need to engage the public and stakeholders who will be affected by the legislation. This collaborative process will help ensure the legislation meets the needs of all Saskatchewan people.
How will government use the information gathered during public engagement?
Results from the first phase of public engagement will help us create the accessibility act. Your feedback will help government make decisions about key areas for accessibility legislation, enforcing the legislation, educating the public about the legislation, making sure the legislation is effective, reporting on the legislation, and setting timelines for implementation.
How will accessibility standards be developed?
Results from the public engagement will help us determine the best way to create accessibility standards under the key areas of the legislation. We will continue to gather input from people with disabilities, businesses and organizations related to the key areas, and the public as we develop each set of standards.
Who will be required to follow accessibility legislation?
In general, legislation may apply to any person or organization under provincial jurisdiction. For accessibility legislation, different standards and regulations could apply to any number of different groups, including the general public, private organizations and businesses, and government. Decisions about who must follow specific standards and regulations will be made as the legislation is developed.
What areas will be covered by the accessibility legislation?
Based on information from other provinces and input from the Saskatchewan Disability Strategy, we developed an initial list of key areas, which included design of public spaces, information and communications, customer service standards, service animals, public sector procurement, public sector employment, and public transportation.
During the public engagement process, we asked for input on the key areas from people across Saskatchewan, including people with disabilities, community organizations, businesses, local governments, and the general public.
Will government develop service animal legislation?
Government plans to include service animals as a key area under the accessibility legislation. Regulations for service animals might be included with other key area regulations or they might stand as a separate set of regulations.
How will the new accessibility legislation be enforced?
We will use the public engagement results and research on other jurisdictions to help us determine the best ways to make sure the legislation is followed. Enforcement practices for other Saskatchewan legislation will also help us make decisions about enforcing accessibility legislation.
How will this legislation be different than the Accessible Canada Act?
The Accessible Canada Act covers areas under federal jurisdiction, such as television and radio, telecommunications, air travel, banking, and interactions between the public and the Government of Canada.
Accessibility legislation for Saskatchewan will apply to areas under provincial jurisdiction, such as provincially‑owned properties, cities and towns, parks, and schools.
How will government ensure that the accessibility legislation is effective?
We will use the public engagement results to help us determine how the legislation will be evaluated to ensure it is effective. One common way of ensuring effectiveness is to build a regular review of the legislation into the act.
What is the definition of disability?
For accessibility legislation, we will use the definition of disability in the Saskatchewan Disability Strategy, a definition based on a disability assessment tool developed by the World Health Organization. This definition was widely accepted by the Saskatchewan disability community and covers a broad range of disabilities. The short form of the definition is:
“Disability is a limitation in functioning that is the result of a dynamic interaction between an individual’s health condition(s) and personal and environmental factors.”
How can I stay up to date on accessibility legislation for Saskatchewan?
The best way to keep up to date is to check saskatchewan.ca/accessiblesk for updates on current activities. You can also sign up to be notified of future engagement opportunities by creating an account on this site or by e-mailing email@example.com.
Do other provinces have accessibility legislation?
Yes, Ontario and Manitoba have accessibility acts and regulations (Manitoba has not yet completed all of its regulations).
Quebec has an act that protects the rights of people with disabilities, but it applies to the public sector only (not the business community).
Nova Scotia, British Columbia, and Newfoundland and Labrador have developed accessibility acts and have plans to develop regulations.
How will accessibility legislation relate to laws and programs that already exist?
Accessibility legislation will be distinct from existing legislation and programs that support persons with disabilities. The legislation will not take away from accessibility measures that exist in other legislation, but will complement and support existing legislation.
Accessibility legislation will support the principles of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Saskatchewan Human Rights Code in these existing laws and provide practical standards to achieve a consistent level of access to places, information, and services in our communities.
Saskatchewan’s The Construction Codes Act (CCA) and its regulations will continue to oversee the accessibility of building interiors, while the new accessibility legislation will cover accessibility in a broad range of other areas, including outside spaces (such as parks, crosswalks and parkades), information and communications, customer service standards, service animals, public sector procurement, public sector employment, and public transportation.