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Authored by Philip Milley, Associate Director of Legal Affairs

On November 3, 2016 Bill 59, the newly proposed Accessibility Act passed second reading in the Nova Scotia Legislature. This proposed legislation is aimed at ensuring accessibility and developing minimum accessibility standards which will result in increased obligations on organizations throughout Nova Scotia. The proposed legislation provides the framework for the future development and implementation of accessibility laws that will affect all organizations, including not-for-profits, in Nova Scotia.

The legislation is still in its infant stages and may yet undergo significant revision. However, unless changes occur, organizations will not be under additional legal obligations when this legislation is passed.

The proposed legislation establishes an Accessibility Board which will recommend the implementation of various Accessibility Standards to the Governor in Council (the “GIC”). The GIC will then make them into regulations. These regulations will implement the accessibility standards that will impose specific obligations on organizations in the province. Currently, there are no proposed accessibility standards before the legislature so it is difficult to say what specific obligations organization will face. It is however possible that the Accessibility Board will recommend accessibility standards similar to those found in other provinces (e.g., customer service standards, transportation standards, and/or employment standards to name a few).

While the legislation is light on what specific obligations organizations will face, it establishes that organizations may receive administrative penalties or a maximum penalty of $25,000 for offences under the legislation.

At present Bill 59 is before the Law Amendments Committee and has not yet become law. Charities and not-for-profits should follow this legislation as it proceeds through the legislature because accessibility standards, when introduced, will impose significant accessibility obligations on all organizations in Nova Scotia.

Noteworthy is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Every organization’s circumstances are unique. Before acting on the basis of information contained in this blog, readers should consult with a qualified lawyer for advice specific to their situation.

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