New accessibility rules take effect in B.C. – HR Reporter

Abigail Omale

Sep 8, 2022

Establishing a committee to identify barriers to individuals who are in or are interacting with an organization is part of British Columbia’s new accessibility rules. In an interview with HR Reporter magazine, Osler’s Abigail Ywaya, associate, Employment and Labour, says a key part of the committee will be its makeup.

“They must have... someone who has a disability or a group that represents people with disabilities, and then must also include Indigenous components of that,” says Abigail. “And that is similar to what we see with workplace violence and harassment committees, but now they need to incorporate principles of inclusion.”  

Abigail says the point of the committee is to identify barriers to accessibility in that organization. “The way the government has drafted the legislation is the committee itself has to be accessible to include a variety of people,” she says.

With the new rules, organizations are required to establish a process for receiving public comments on their accessibility plan, as well as barriers to people in or interacting with the organizations. Abigail says this does not seem too onerous because many of these organizations already comply with human rights legislation in making this available to employees. “They might just want to open this up to make it available to all people,” she says.

While the government has announced that non-compliant organizations will be subject to fines of up to $250,000, Abigail says that’s not likely early on.

“It seems like the key to this legislation is not necessarily enforcement, but rather to give a phased approach to implementation, and then to bring enforcement mechanisms later on,” she says. “But what they're really trying to do is phase it in so that organizations can actually develop it and try and include the public participation in it, instead of having it be like an enforcement mechanism”.

“Their goal is not necessarily to punish organizations, but rather to make organizations work collaboratively with the public.”

If you have a subscription to HR Reporter magazine, you can read the full article by author Sarah Dobson posted on September 8, 2022.