In 2017 Nova Scotia passed the Act Respecting Accessibility in Nova Scotia. The Accessibility Act aims to make Nova Scotia inclusive and barrier-free by 2030 and include six accessibility standards which are currently under development. Nova Scotia was the third province to enact an accessibility legislation, after Ontario in 2005 and Manitoba in 2013.
Nearly 20% (144,000) of Nova Scotians are currently living with a disability, and this number is expected to increase as the population of our province ages. In 2017 the government established the Accessibility Directorate within the Department of Justice in Spring 2017. The Accessibility Directorate is responsible for:
- Supporting the implementation and administration of the Accessibility Act and future accessibility regulations
- Addressing broader disability-related initiatives
- Acting as the central mechanism for ensuring the concerns of persons with disabilities are heard and acted upon by government
The Nova Scotia government is working with people with disabilities, and public and private sector organizations to create six standards for an accessible Nova Scotia. The accessibility standards will apply to:
- goods and services
- information and communication
- built environment
These standards are in development.
Compliance with the standards is mandatory and the Act contains fines of up to $250,000 for the most serious cases of non-compliance.
One of the government’s key priorities for 2017–2018 was leading the development of Access by Design 2030, an implementation strategy for an accessible Nova Scotia.
Access by Design 2030: Achieving an Accessible Nova Scotia
The Nova Scotia government has created a strategy to achieve its goal of an accessible Nova Scotia by 2030. Access by Design 2030, developed in consultation with persons with disabilities and their families; organizations that provide services to persons with disabilities, the Accessibility Advisory Board, and representatives from a variety of sectors including: non-profit, education, health, municipal and business sectors, provides a framework for how the province will achieve its goal.
Small Business ACCESS-Ability Grant Program
Small businesses can apply for a cost-shared grant to make accessibility-related improvements for clients, customers, or employees. The program provides funding to eligible businesses for improvements in information and communications, public transportation, education and training, assistive devices for employees and customers, and renovations to improve accessibility of the built environment. The Business ACCESS-Ability Grant Program is administered by the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage.
Go to the Small Business ACCESS-Ability Grant Program web page for more information.