The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, hosted a two-day conference in Ottawa, entitled ‘Building an Inclusive Canada: A National Disability Summit’. Amy Lonsberry from The Sinneave Family Foundation (Sinneave) was pleased to be one of approximately 200 people in attendance. Sinneave attends events like this and collaborates with the disability community as part of our mission to share promising practices, build system capacity and foster policy development.
Sessions included creating a culture of inclusiveness, inclusive economy and job market, financial security, human rights and the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, mobilizing partners from across sectors, and social inclusion and intersectionality.
It was an inspiring and productive two days. Leading thinkers and champions shared their visions for the future and ideas for action. One idea that stood out was the potential impact of Bill C-81, The Accessible Canada Act. C-81 just passed third reading in the Senate. One speaker noted that “Bill C-81 represents a chance to start a movement”. If C-81 is proclaimed, Federal Government departments and federally regulated industry organizations will be mandated to develop accessibility plans in consultation with people with disabilities. Accessibility plans represent a chance to have important conversations. Another speaker noted that “Bill C-81 will broaden thinking about disability if we treat it as a beginning and not an end”.
Bill C-81 is not yet an enforceable law. It is still a bill, a proposed law. For Bill C-81 to become a law, it must go back to the House of Commons. The House must vote on the amendments that the Senate has added to the bill. If the House of Commons passes all of those amendments, Bill C-81 becomes a law. If the House of Commons does not pass some or all of those amendments, it remains a bill, a proposed law. The Senate would then have to vote again on the bill, but without the Senate’s amendments.