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Accessibility Laws

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms applies at the federal level of government. It would include services such as banks and airlines. It does not apply to individuals or other organizations, such as post-secondary educational institutions.

The Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81) - Addresses access issues at the federal level for individuals specifically with disabilities. This Act came into effect in the summer of 2019 and some of the specific legal requirements are still under development. One of the requirements is access to information and communication technologies, such as web access. One of its goals is to push provincial governments to adopt their own accessibility initiatives.

The British Columbia Human Rights Code applies at the provincial level, under which post- secondary educational institutions are governed. This Code is enforced by the BC Human Rights Tribunal.  

Section 8(1) of the Code prohibits discrimination in a service customarily available to the public.

8(1) A person must not, without a bona fide and reasonable justification,

  • (a) deny to a person or class of persons any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public, or
  • (b) discriminate against a person or class of persons regarding any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public because of the race, colour, ancestry, place or origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or age of that person or class of persons…

While the Code does not specifically mention post-secondary educational institutions, universities and colleges fall under the services or facilities that are customarily available to the public.

Due to the passing of Accessible Canada Act (Bill C-81), the British Columbia government is taking steps towards its vision of “Accessibility 2024,” with the goal of “making B.C. the most progressive province in Canada for people with disabilities by 2024” – including a fully accessible Internet. This will have implications for all sectors, including  post-secondary institutions, which is yet to be clearly determined.