Accessibility

Introduction

Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) is committed to making its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities.

The following information is intended to provide the reader with an overview of the Government of Canada's legislative and policy requirements regarding real property accessibility. Additional information to assist designers and project managers involved in PWGSC-managed projects is also provided.

Legislative Requirements

The Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in the provision of goods, services, facilities and accommodation. It is government policy to ensure barrier-free access to, and use of, real property it owns or leases.

The Employment Equity Act was created with the purpose of achieving equality in the workplace so that no person shall be denied employment opportunities or benefits for reasons unrelated to ability. In the fulfillment of this goal, the Act seeks to correct the disadvantages in employment experienced by women, aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities by giving effect to the principle that employment equity means more than treating persons in the same way but also requires special measures and the accommodation of differences.

The Employment Equity Act defines persons with disabilities as persons who have a long-term or recurring physical, mental, sensory, psychiatric or learning impairment and who:

  1. Consider themselves to be disadvantaged in employment by reason of that impairment, or
  2. Believe that an employer or potential employer is likely to consider them to be disadvantaged in employment by reasons of that impairment,

and includes persons whose functional limitations owing to their impairment have been accommodated in their current job or workplace.

Relevant Policies

Policy on the Duty to Accommodate Persons with Disabilities in the Federal Public Service states that it is the policy of the Treasury Board and the Public Service Commission to create and maintain an inclusive, barrier-free environment in the federal Public Service to ensure the full participation of persons with disabilities. This policy is to be implemented by:

  • Identifying and removing barriers to employment, career development and promotion of persons with disabilities unless doing so would result in undue hardship;
  • Designing all employment systems, processes and facilities to be accessible by building accommodation into workplace standards, systems, processes and facilities, and
  • Accommodating individuals when such barriers cannot be removed. Such accommodation must be made to the point of undue hardship taking into consideration issues of health, safety and cost. Accommodation must also be based on the circumstances of each case and must respect an individual's right to privacy and confidentiality

This policy applies, with respect to accommodation within the workplace, to all departments and agencies and other portions of the Public Service listed in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Public Service Staff Relations Act for whom the Treasury Board is the employer. Examples of disabilities under this policy are:

  • Blindness or other severe visual impairment
  • Deafness or other severe hearing impairment
  • Mobility impairment
  • Chronic pain
  • Environmental sensitivities (note this policy includes environmental sensitivities whereas in the past, PWGSC policy excluded them.)
  • Addictions
  • Learning disabilities
  • Speech impairment
  • Chronic conditions, such as diabetes
  • Psychiatric disabilities
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Other permanent or temporary conditions that cause pain or limit or restrict activities.

The Treasury Board Accessibility Standard for Real Property establishes minimum requirements for the accessibility of Crown-owned and leased real property.

Custodian departments have primary responsibility for ensuring that the real property they administer is accessible to persons with disabilities and for planning appropriate capital and maintenance programs to ensure implementation of the accessibility standard.

Treasury Board Secretariat will determine the effectiveness of this standard, how it is applied in departments and whether it needs to be revised. The Guide to the Management of Real Property provides information so that departments can monitor and assess implementation of the standard.

The PWGSC policy entitled 'Real Property Branch Accessibility ProcedureThis link is available only to clients with access to The Source, the PWGSC intranet. formalizes the responsibilities of Real Property Services as a custodian, pursuant to amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA). The purpose of this policy is to ensure that all reasonable steps are taken on both Crown-owned and leased property to appropriately accommodate special needs for facility access and use by individuals with physical disabilities, even when these needs exceed the requirements of the current edition of the Treasury Board Accessibility Standard for Real Property or the CAN/CSA B651 Standard.

Real Property project managers are responsible for ensuring that the occupants and stakeholders have an opportunity to identify their special requirements and that the facilities are accessible as required by the policy. Project managers must respect the requirements of the Privacy Act when soliciting input on accessibility requirements; see Inquiries for details.

On request, Real Property Branch provides technical support; architectural and engineering support services; and guidance on best practices as they apply to accessibility for persons with disabilities on an optional, cost-recoverable basis. Contact personnel listed in Inquiries for details.

Application

The Treasury Board Accessibility Standard for Real Property applies to PWGSC and to all departments within the meaning of section 2 of the Financial Administration Act, unless specific acts or regulations override it. Client departments, as employers / service providers ensure their operations meet Treasury Board policy requirements and ensure their operations accommodate special accessibility requirements of individuals with disabilities; use this Flowchart to establish which policies apply to a department.

The Treasury Board Accessibility Standard for Real Property identifies which specific site and building elements must be accessible. Accessibility requirements for heritage facilities are the same as for other Crown-owned facilities. However, the Standard includes considerations and procedures for addressing accessibility requirements that would otherwise significantly reduce the heritage quality of the facility.

The PWGSC - Real Property Branch Accessibility Procedure This link is available only to clients with access to The Source, the PWGSC intranet. is intended:

  • To ensure that the Treasury Board Accessibility Standard for Real Property is met when acquiring and managing real property.
  • To provide direction to national and regional PWGSC personnel involved in real property acquisition, construction, or major refit projects on the application and implementation of the TB Accessibility Standard.
  • To ensure that:
    • the accessibility requirements identified in the TB Accessibility Standard are considered early in a project's planning phase for the provision of barrier-free access to, use of, and egress from real property that is or will come under the administration of PWGSC and managed by the RPB; and
    • where accessibility deficiencies are identified, requisite decisions are taken and/or approvals sought in a timely fashion.

The Procedure includes roles and responsibilities as well as an exemption criteria and approval process.

Technical Documentation

The federal standards for Crown-owned or leased real property are defined in the Canadian Standards Association's CAN/CSA B651 95 Barrier-free Design Standard for existing buildings and the new CAN/CSA B651-04 Accessible Design for the Built Environment The WWW icon indicates a link that takes you outside the federal government's common web environment. for new construction and major re-fit projects. It should be noted that:

  • The CSA standard differs from provincial building codes
  • The new CAN/CSA B651-04 Accessible Design for the Built Environment The WWW icon indicates a link that takes you outside the federal government's common web environment. Standard replaces the CAN/CSA B651-95 Barrier-Free Design Standard.
  • The revised standard applies to federal real property acquired, constructed or undergoing major refit after October 1, 2004 and not retroactively to the current inventory Treasury Board Real Property Accessibility Policy
  • An overview of the changes between the 2004 and 1995 editions of the standard is available.

Tools

A series of 14 accessibility checklists identifying the technical requirements of the 1995 and 2004 CSA B651 Standard have been developed to assist in the preparation of accessibility assessments. Your local or national contacts will be able to provide these documents. They are also available to assist you with helpful hints on where to procure special equipment or how to solve particular type of problems related to accessibility.

Exemptions

The Treasury Board Accessibility Standard for Real Property states that some real property may be exempted from full accessibility requirements and that the custodian departments can decide to exempt elements of real property in their custody based on criteria provided in the standard. These minor variations must be consistent with the general intent of this standard and must not affect the general accessibility of a specific property. Custodians shall establish internal procedures for identifying and seeking the deputy head's approval of full or partial exemptions from the accessibility requirements of this standard. They shall document the rationale for these exemptions and maintain records of all real property that is partially or fully exempted.

PWGSC internal procedures for identifying and approving full or partial exemptions of real property from accessibility requirements can be found in the Real Property Branch Accessibility Procedure which also includes the process for the review and approval of such exemptions. A sample Accessibility Exemption Form is attached. For custodial departments, should exemptions be required, the project managers are responsible for confirming the Exemption Criteria and Approval Process required by the department and for obtaining the necessary approval.

Inquiries

For more information about making federal facilities accessible or specialized accessibility requirements please contact SNGP.NPMS@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca to obtain the name of your PWGSC Regional Accessibility Coordinator. All services are on a cost recovery basis.

Associated Documents

Legislation

PWGSC Policies/Procedures

Treasury Board Policies

Standards

Toolkit