Accessible federal government built environment: Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs—February 27, 2020

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Commitment on accessible federal government built environment

As part of the accessible Canada initiative, Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has committed to funding accessibility assessments on a portion of its nationwide Crown-owned and leased portfolio. These assessments will lead to a program of work to remove barriers in communities and workplaces.

Key messages on accessible federal government built environment

Current status of accessible federal government built environment

A phased procurement strategy was developed to ensure that the department is able to deliver on its mandate on a timely and efficient basis.

Phase 1 involved the release of a request for information by the department seeking insight on the maturity and capacity of the industry to provide technical accessibility assessments in a systematic and cost effective manner.

Phase 2 (currently underway) saw the launch of a competitive process by invitation to the Rick Hansen Foundation and requests for information respondents. This will allow the department to test the ‘above and beyond’ framework, consolidate knowledge and best practices on accessibility for the built environment, and address a broad spectrum of disabilities. Assessments began in late summer 2019, and a total of 24 buildings will be assessed this calendar year.

Phase 3 (2020 to 2024): The third phase of the procurement strategy will feature the launch of a procurement tool kit in 2020 for PSPC and other federal custodians to help identify the procurement approach best suited to their needs with respect to accessibility of the built environment. This procurement tool will be defined in consultation with other federal custodians and will result in a comprehensive and consistent assessment of the federal portfolio that will unfold through 2024.

Consultations with the Network of Persons with disabilities allowed Real Property Services to identify a shortlist of 22 high impact / low cost accessibility improvements and will begin implementation of these items this fiscal year and next (2019 to 2020 and 2020 to 2021). Additional funding to undertake accessibility related improvements identified through the technical assessments will be required in the future.

Background of accessible federal government built environment

The Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81) received royal assent on June 21, 2019. This act aims at removing barriers in:

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is the lead for the accessible Government of Canada agenda under the Accessible Canada Act and, as such, leads policy, legislation and regulations on accessibility and disability for the Government of Canada. ESDC coordination with other government departments is done through the Interdepartmental Committee on Disability Issues.

The Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, created in August 2019, will develop standards and regulations for compliance.

The Office of Public Service Accessibility at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is responsible for developing an accessibility strategy for the public service of Canada and an implementation plan to help departments and agencies prepare for the act. They are supported by a robust governance structure, which includes a deputy minister advisory group, an external expert advisory group, an assistant deputy minister steering committee and various working groups.

Within PSPC, departmental accessibility activities are coordinated through the department’s Accessibility Office. Real Property Services is the lead for the accessibility in the built environment.

The accessible government built environment initiative

The department received Treasury Board expenditure authority to perform technical accessibility assessments on a portion of its Crown-owned portfolio from 2019 to 2024 in order to establish the accessibility benchmark for the built environment with the new 2018 Canadian Standards Association Code Requirements for Accessibility. These assessments will identify recommended accessibility improvements, estimated costs to bring the base building elements into compliance and engage with the accessibility community to include the user experience. These assessments will strive to define ‘above and beyond’ elements to ensure an accessible user experience and foster inclusion throughout federal buildings.

Central to the accessible government built environment initiative is consultation with networks and organizations representing various disability groups, and collaboration among federal departments. Key stakeholders from the private sector that have been involved in defining the ‘above and beyond’ criteria are:

Question and answer for accessible federal government built environment

In this section

Question 1

What is PSPC doing to improve accessibility and remove barriers into communities and workplaces under federal jurisdiction?

Answer 1

The Accessible Canada Act on June 20, 2018 aims to remove barriers for all Canadians who want to access and work in federal buildings.

As a common service provider, PSPC is conducting technical accessibility assessments of a portion of its Crown-owned real property portfolio over fiscal years 2019 to 2020 to 2023 à 2024 in order to identify improvements, including estimated costs. The goal is to exceed new accessibility requirements and putting people at the heart of the built environment.

PSPC is also consulting with the Network of Persons with disabilities and third-party organizations that represent disability communities to identify any additional elements that should be considered alongside these technical requirements.

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