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New procurement requirements for accessibility

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Information: Publiservice Disclaimer

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Item Information

Purpose

The purpose of Policy Notification (PN)-142 is to inform Acquisitions Program (AP) contracting officers of the new accessibility requirements in the Treasury Board Contracting Policy.

Effective date

This policy notification is effective immediately.

Background

On June 21, 2019, the Accessible Canada Act (Act) received Royal Assent and came into force on July 11, 2019. The Act seeks to create a barrier-free Canada through the proactive identification, removal and prevention of accessibility barriers in seven priority areas, including the federal procurement of goods and services.

The Accessible Canada Act provides the following new, legal definitions to support a barrier-free Canada:

Barrier means anything — including anything physical, architectural, technological or attitudinal, anything that is based on information or communications or anything that is the result of a policy or a practice — that hinders the full and equal participation in society of persons with an impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment or a functional limitation. 

Disability means any impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment — or a functional limitation — whether permanent, temporary or episodic in nature, or evident or not, that, in interaction with a barrier, hinders a person's full and equal participation in society. 

In support of the Act and the Government's priority for accessible procurement, the Treasury Board approved and implemented changes to the Treasury Board Contracting Policy (referred to as the Policy throughout this document) effective October 11, 2019, requiring the consideration of accessibility in public procurements. The Policy also requires departments, where appropriate, to include accessibility criteria when specifying the requirements for goods and services and ensure deliverables incorporate accessibility features.

Overview

The Policy represents a shift in Canada's contracting policy for procurements to include accessibility as a mandatory consideration. Accessibility must now be considered as part of the Government of Canada's procurement process.

The new requirements specified in the Policy are as follows:

  1. In section 4.2.26 the Policy states that: where appropriate, departments must:
    • include accessibility criteria when specifying requirements for goods and services, and
    • ensure that deliverables incorporate accessibility features.
  2. In section 4.2.27, the Policy states that: consistent with trade agreements and comprehensive land claims agreements, if the department determines that it is not appropriate to include accessibility criteria as part of commodity specifications, or if it is unable to obtain goods or services that comply, the client or business owner/technical authority must ensure that clear justification is on file.

Acquisitions Policy requirements

Business Owners/Technical Authorities (TA)/Clients are responsible for considering accessibility criteria in their procurements as part of the specifications, unless accessibility is not applicable. If the TA/Client determines that it is not appropriate to include accessibility, they are responsible for providing a clear justification which must be kept on the procurement file. The justification form can be found on PWGSC's Procurement CornerThe information is only accessible to federal government department and agency employees. or the TBS GCPediaThe information is only accessible to federal government department and agency employees. page.

The policy applies to all procurement tools, including Standing Offers (SOs) and Supply Arrangements (SAs), and the call-ups against these tools. Business Owners/Technical Authorities (TA)/Clients can work with their contracting officers to determine how best to incorporate accessibility considerations or criteria into a requirement, and whether the existing SO/SA will be the most appropriate tool for their procurement requirement.

Contracting officers are responsible for ensuring that:

  • the requirements include accessibility criteria, if applicable;
  • the TA/Client provides a justification if accessibility criteria are not appropriate or if they are unable to obtain goods or services that comply with accessibility requirements.

Additional information on accessibility considerations is found in the Treasury Board Secretariat Guidelines to the Contracting Policy: Ensuring Accessibility via Public ProcurementThe information is only accessible to federal government department and agency employees..

Accessible Procurement Resource Centre (APRC)

In light of the Act, and the Policy, the Accessible Procurement Resource Centre (APRC) has been established to lead and support Acquisitions Program contracting officers and government buyers in other departments with the integration and application of accessibility criteria (commodity specific) across services and goods that are procured by the federal government. The APRC is housed within Public Works and Government Services Canada's (PWGSC) Acquisitions Program in the Strategic Policy Sector. Please visit YouTube for informational videos on the Accessible Canada Act and meaningful consideration of accessibility in procurement.

Additional information on accessible procurement resources and tools developed by the APRC is found on PWGSC's Procurement CornerThe information is only accessible to federal government department and agency employees..

Summary of changes

In support of PN-142, the Supply Manual has been updated. For more details, refer to the Affected Supply Manual sections listed below.

Revisions to the Standard Acquisition Clauses and Conditions (SACC) Manual

There are no changes to the SACC manual.

Contact information

Questions related to accessible procurement may be directed to PWGSC's APRC at the following address: TPSGC.PACRAAccessible-APAccessiblePRC.PWGSC@tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca.