Accessibility action plan, 2022-2025
Table of contents
- Action plan
- Objective 1: Employment
- Objective 2: Built environment
- Objective 3: Information and communication technology (ICT)
- Objective 4: Communications other than communications technology (ICT)
- Objective 5: Procurement of goods, services and facilities
- Objective 6: Programs and services
- Objective 7: Transportation
- Appendix A: Strategic linkages
- Corporate Priority: Workforce, equity, accessibility, inclusion and diversity, and well-being
- Integrated business plan
- HR Modernization
- Refreshed Values and Ethics Code
- Appendix B: Governance
Director, Workforce Engagement and Contribution
Parks Canada Agency
30 Victoria Street,
Gatineau QC J8X 0B3
Within Canada and United States: 1-888-773-8888
Outside North America: 1-819-420-9486
The action plan reflects both the social and organizational imperatives of achieving the goals of an accessible public service and Parks Canada. It is a commitment to build on current practices as well as progressively implement actions and initiatives to effect the culture change needed to integrate accessibility with the way Parks Canada delivers its business. It is also a commitment to comply with the Accessibility Canada Act and the Accessible Canada Regulations.
The overall approach is grounded in reinforcing awareness of issues and barriers faced by persons with disabilities to progressively build accessibility into how we work to achieve long-term sustainability of results. Specifically, these include increasing representation of persons with disabilities; improving responsiveness to requests for accommodations; equipping managers and human resources professionals with tools and quality data; strengthening management accountability in annual performance commitments for executives; and mobilizing the employees to create accessible and inclusive workspaces, heritage sites and national parks.
The plan will remain a living and evergreen document. Strategies will be adjusted based on feedback received through mechanisms such as the Public Service Employee Survey (PSES), pulse checks, client satisfaction surveys on services and programs to Canadians.
In conclusion, achieving the objectives of the action plan will require shifting our collective perceptions and understanding from dis-abilities to different abilities. This culture change will require organizational mobilization at all levels – senior management, frontline managers, supervisors and employees. This three-year action plan seeks to strengthen practices and processes already in place and lay the foundation in other area all of which to build long-term sustainability and an accessible Parks Canada.
Parks Canada is responsible for over 450,000 km2 of protected lands, waters and ice, and the national parks, national park reserves, and national historic sites administered by the Agency receive an average of 25 million visits annually. To manage this, the Parks Canada Agency employs about 8,686 employees who work in offices and field units from coast, to coast, to coast.
For the majority of Parks Canada’s history, people with disabilities were not considered in the establishment of new parks, in the development of built assets (like roads or visitor facilities), and were not included in the design of the Agency’s policies and programs. This has begun to change, with the introduction of a gender and disability-inclusive washroom directive in 2021 as one good example.
Parks Canada continues to comply with accessibility requirements. Buildings meet current accessibility standards. As well, these default standards are met for communications as well as information and communications technology as they are central agency requirements.
However, much remains to be done. The current rate of representation persons with disabilities is 2021-2022 3.5%. This rate increased from 3.2% in 2020-2021. However, it remains significantly below the LMA of 8.4%. Persons with disabilities accounted for 3.6% of all external hiring at Parks Canada, an increase from the previous year. The hiring rate continues to be lower than the LMA rate of 8.4. Of all Parks Canada employees who received promotions, 4% were persons with disabilities, an increase from 1.9% in 2020-2021. The promotion rates for persons with disabilities were also higher than the representation rate of 3.5%. Lastly, persons with disabilities left at a rate of 3.1% in 2021-2022, a slight decrease from 2020-2021. This rate was also lower than the representation rate of 3.5%.
Among aged of 25 to 64 years, persons with disabilities were less likely to be employed (59%) than those without (80%). Among adults with disabilities who were not employed and not currently in school, two in five had the potential to work. This represents nearly 645,000 individuals.
Objective 1: Employment
Where are we
- The representation of Person with Disabilities is significantly below Labour Market Availability (LMA) at Parks Canada. Current representation of persons with disabilities is 3.5%; LMA is at 8.4%.
- The current process to request accommodations is not standardised. Employees with disabilities fear requesting accommodations from their managers given the negative perceptions of disabilities.
What we will do
- Leverage the expertise of and partner with disability organizations and agencies to recruit Canadians with disabilities.
- Create talent pipelines of students and youth with disabilities hired for seasonal support to enter the workforce on a permanent basis.
- Review staffing processes with accessibility experts and in consultation with employees with disabilities in order to update and remove barriers.
- Establish a new model for the management of accommodations, in collaboration with Employees with disabilities.
What we want to be
Parks Canada Agency meets labour market availability for persons with disabilities and contributes to the overall representation goals of the public service of Canada. The organization’s human resources management policies, programs and practices are inclusive by design.
Objective 2: Built environment
Where we are
- Parks Canada delivers visitor services and experiences at over 200 heritage places across Canada. The quality and consistency of accessibility at these destinations is highly variable and meaningful experiences are not available to all.
- Parks Canada is committed to ongoing improvement of visitor assets, visitor services, and visitor experience to incorporate principles and considerations for accessibility. This effort will require ongoing improvement in knowledge and human capacity, investment in infrastructure, and investments of time and resources to fill policy gaps.
- Parks Canada’s Real Property Portfolio Strategy 2021 positioned Accessibility and Inclusion as a core goal to “Implement standards for accessibility, with a focus on inclusion, through improvements to real property assets and adaptation to evolving standards for physical accessibility of our structures and places to improve access and use by all Canadians.”
What we will do
- Develop and/or adopt available and applicable accessible and inclusive built environment standards and guidelines.
- Develop accessibility expertise in our built environment centres of expertise (i.e. architecture and engineering) to support accessible and inclusive planning, design, construction, operation, and use of our built environment and ensure that solutions are consistently applied nationally.
- Integrate accessibility considerations in all of our planning and management plans, visitor experience strategies, projects and initiatives related to the built environment.
- Engage with external stakeholders to help guide the work that we do on improving the inclusiveness of visitor infrastructure, services and experiences.
- Assess what infrastructure and experiences we currently offer and understand where we can make improvements.
- Prioritize improvements to existing infrastructure based on analysis and consultation with established timelines for improvements as funding allows.
- Ensure all new projects incorporate the latest standards while also meeting the real needs of visitors and will ensure that any new projects are integrated into existing infrastructure so that overall site connectivity and visitor experience can be improved.
- Increase the accessibility of our built environment for Canadians through increased digital and virtual offerings of our National Parks, National Historic Sites, National Marine Conservation Areas, and Urban Parks.
What we want to be
- Accessibility becomes a fully integrated part of our work with considerations for inclusion and accessibility integrated into all steps in planning and delivery of visitor services, experiences and infrastructure.
- Employees have a clear understanding of accessibility principles, expectations and requirements.
Objective 3: Information and communication technology (ICT)
Where we are
Parks Canada has a web team who provides leadership, expertise, and training to web publishers on the Government of Canada (GC)’s web standard on accessibility. This team also provides expertise in evaluating the web accessibility of digital platforms used for external relations and visitor experience, such as consultation platforms and e-commerce sites.
The Chief Information Officer (CIO) organization buys, develops, and supports technology solutions. It also ensures that Parks Canada employees have the accessible tools they need to perform their jobs.
Parks Canada develops externally facing websites that meet web content accessibility guidelines. We consider accessibility features from the start and evaluate them before making the website available to users.
Parks Canada also uses software solutions created by companies. These solutions must meet the same accessibility standards. As well, people can use built-in accessibility features without needing any special privileges. For example, employees can use the immersive reader in Microsoft 365.
Parks Canada also develops applications for the use of employees. We ensure these meet basic accessibility guidelines, as a good practice. Employees can also use the immersive reader offered by the Microsoft Edge browser when accessing web applications.
Parks Canada often buys software and hardware to meet the needs of the majority, keep versions up to date, and make sure they work well with our network and tools.
Parks Canada also provides accessible solutions to employees on a case-by-case basis, with the help of Shared Services Canada’s Accessibility, Accommodation and Adaptive Computer Technology (AAACT) Program. There may be delays in supplying a solution due to the time needed to understand needs, research, and test options, and then provide the solution.
The accessibility level of digital content varies greatly. Even though tools are available to create accessible content, authors may not know how to use them.
A survey of Parks Canada users in the spring of 2022 provided the following responses:
- some software does not meet accessibility requirements and is not intuitive to use, for which users suggest more training
- more adaptive technologies to support persons with disabilities should be made available including speech to text software, as well as training
Parks Canada has identified a plan to address the above challenges.
What we will do
- Work with the AAACT to find solution options for several types and degrees of disabilities
- Strengthen governance to ensure internal solutions also meet accessibility requirements
- Improve training, processes, and public-facing websites
- Perform prioritized accessibility assessments of its ICT and develop plans to address policy non-compliance
- Apply Government of Canada accessibility requirements to new internally facing solutions
- Use consultations with people with disabilities to obtain feedback on the application of accessibility features.
What we want to be
Parks Canada clients and employees can access and use Parks Canada information and communications technology and digital content, regardless of ability or disability.
Objective 4: Communications other than communications technology (ICT)
Where we are
Parks Canada functional groups provide leadership on various communication accessibility issues by way of expertise, training and formal guidance. Accessible communication practices are employed when developing communications products and activities such as news releases, social media, and events for internal and external audiences, as well as in web publication. We have recently been including more trip planning content on our website for people with disabilities, but this work is still in the early phase.
What we will do
- Continue to refine our guidance, based on best practices, for presenting information on the web accessibly, and in the planning and development of communications products and activities. This work will include user testing content with people with disabilities.
- Continue to refine guidance, based on best practices, for presenting information on the website about the level of accessibility of places, infrastructure and experiences.
- Review recently published GoC accessibility standards for media so that Parks Canada can better plan for updating the Design Guidelines for Media Accessibility.
- Promote the Guidelines on Making Communications Products and Activities Accessible so that all Parks Canada team members can ensure all communications products meet accessibility standards.
- Work with partners to better promote accessible services, programs and experiences.
What we want to be
- All Parks Canada team members will know where to find information on accessible communications, media, and design standards and be enabled to apply them in the production of Parks Canada internal and external communications and media.
Objective 5: Procurement of goods, services and facilities
Where we are
- Current procedures require the consideration of accessibility as part of the requirement definition for all procurement activities of the Agency and inclusion of accessibility criteria in contracts where applicable.
- Guidance on how to give meaningful consideration to accessibility and examples of accessibility considerations for different domains is available on Parks Canada’s intranet as a resource for staff in developing their requirements.
- Design standards exist for some commodities, particularly for visitor-facing facilities and products.
What we will do
- Parks Canada will continue to develop standard accessibility requirements for commonly procured commodities, taking into consideration Government of Canada and industry standards and best practices.
- Parks Canada will monitor compliance with existing procedures to consider accessibility as part of its procurement quality assurance program.
- Ensure staff have a comprehensive understanding of how to incorporate accessibility considerations in their procurement activities.
What we want to be
Parks Canada will strive for excellence in the inclusion of accessibility considerations in its procurement processes. Solicitations will be aligned with Government of Canada standards for accessibility.
Objective 6: Programs and services
Where are we
The 2020 Minister’s Round table consultations revealed that:
- people living with disabilities often feel excluded from national historic sites and national parks,
- there is an opportunity to use social science and analysis to better understand who is visiting and to assess the quality of their experiences to support the design of more effective approaches,
- participants thought that Parks Canada should first acknowledge the reality and pervasiveness of these barriers,
- participants thought that Parks Canada should partner with organizations who are active on the ground in communities and neighbourhoods across the country,
- many persons with disabilities report that they do not receive equal quality of service, and,
- service staff do not always know how to serve persons with disabilities.
Parks Canada does not have a formal method for assessing programs and services from an accessibility perspective. This leads to unique assessments rather than consistent and a varying degree of importance on accessibility.
Parks Canada is improving its understanding of the users of its services and its visitors through a client experience (CX) project. This initiative applies the GC digital standards, including building in accessibility from the start.
What we will do
- Parks Canada will ensure accessibility is consistently considered in the design of programs and services at an early stage. It will develop formal guidance and tools to support the design, delivery and assessment of accessible programs and services.
- Employees, both on the ground and in the office, will be trained on the delivery of accessible services.
What we want to be
Parks Canada is equipped to design and deliver programs and services that are easily accessible to persons with disabilities, and clients are satisfied with the accessibility of its programs and services.
Objective 7: Transportation
Where are we
- Transportation services that are available within Parks Canada places are typically operated by the private sector or occasionally contracted services with a third-party operator, and the accessibility options provided by those third-parties vary.
- Accessibility is considered in all transportation offers for visitors.
What will we do
- Continue to explore options to maximize accessible transportation to and from Parks Canada places, including by leveraging purpose built transit organizations with fully accessible vehicles.
- Ensure that visitors have an alternative accessible transportation option (e.g. personal vehicle access) if providing an accessible shuttle/vessel is not possible through a third party.
What we want to be
- Parks Canada offers universally accessible transportation options where transportation is provided.
- Parks Canada is equipped to offer accessible transportation for staff.
Minister’s Round Table 2020
Parks Canada will work with experts, as well as advocacy and service organizations, to strengthen accessibility and inclusion at national historic sites, national parks and national marine conservation areas.
Round Table participants called on Parks Canada to reach out broadly and connect with existing organizations doing invaluable work in communities across Canada to advance accessibility and inclusion. Parks Canada will work with experts, as well as with advocacy and service organizations to improve accessibility and inclusion at national heritage places. The Agency will also work closely with staff and with experts to support implementation of the Accessible Canada Act.
Minister’s Round Table
In 2020, Parks Canada held public consultations for the Minister’s Round Table where the principle of Nothing Without Us was heard throughout. It highlighted the need to proactively and consistently collaborate with those most affected by the design and delivery of given initiatives, helping to build confidence and trust, and supporting the design of more effective and inclusive approaches.
Participants also highlighted that inclusion and diversity requires more than just making Parks Canada sites physically accessible. It is about making sure that all employees of the Agency can work in an environment inclusive and without barriers. It is also making sure that everyone can enjoy their visit, and connect with the experiences available.
To inform Parks Canada’s Accessibility Action Plan, a series of consultations sessions were held from March to December 2021 with employees with disabilities to gather information, thoughts and perspectives on employment; the built environment; information and communications technology (ICT); communication (other than ICT); Programs and Services; Procurement; and Culture. At the request of the Employees with Disabilities Network (EwDN), a “What we heard” report was developed to summarize and validate the results of these consultations.
Members of the EwDN also joined the Accessibility Plan Working Group, made up of representatives from relevant functional areas within the Agency, to do a gap analysis, which contributed to the development of the action plan. As the functional areas implement the Action Plan, consultations with the EwDN will continue.
What we heard report
This section provides a high level summary of important barriers identified to date through consultation activities with Canadians and employees with disabilities. It is by no means a complete nor final list, as the wide variety of programs and activities Parks Canada undertakes, as well as the different environments in which the Agency works, make the task of mapping out barriers and identifying solutions a complex one.
- Employment: Consultation participants reported challenges in finding opportunities for indeterminate employment and/or career advancement, in obtaining accommodations and productivity tools, and expressed hesitations around self-identification for fear of being labelled.
- Information and Communications: Consultation participants reported challenges in obtaining needed IT equipment and software and felt Parks Canada has been slow in adopting accessibility solutions already in place in other departments.
- Built Environment: Consultation participants felt that Parks Canada should be striving to surpass minimal accessibility requirements by gathering information on the built environment from the perspective of both employees and visitors. Participants felt more guidance was needed in terms of making heritage sites more accessible.
- Procurement: Consultation participants felt Parks Canada should be clearer in its accessibility requirements when working with partners and contractors.
- Programs and Services: Consultation participants felt strongly about the importance of providing meaningful experiences for all visitors by considering accessibility early in the planning stages and by leveraging a variety of tools, such as technology, training, partnerships, and visitor data.
- Culture: Consultation participants called for a cultural shift within Parks Canada to reduce unconscious bias, stigma, and barriers around accommodations. Participants felt that management needs to play an active role in promoting an accessibility-positive culture and environment.
Employment Systems Review
Between September 2021 and March 2022, Parks Canada conducted an Employment Systems Review (ESR) to identify potential barriers to employment, promotion and retention of employees from the four designated employment equity groups – Indigenous Peoples, Persons with Disabilities, Visible Minorities and Women. The final report includes 12 recommendations, which informs the priorities and actions of the Accessibility Action Plan. Priority areas include senior leadership commitment, accountability, employment equity networks, representation, and the development of the employment equity action plan.
Appendix A: Strategic linkages
Corporate priority: Workforce, equity, accessibility, inclusion and diversity, and well-being
Parks Canada continues to prioritize a positive and healthy work environment by embracing a diverse and inclusive workforce, as well as a safe and collaborative culture.
Parks Canada will implement an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Strategy with a focus on culture, people management, systemic racism and barrier removal. This Strategy takes guidance from Government-wide priorities such as the Call to Action on Anti-Racism, Equity and Inclusion in the Federal Public Service, and encompasses the Agency’s Employment Equity, Accessibility, and Official Languages Action Plans while also complying with its legislative obligations.
Integrated business plan
Parks Canada continues to mature the annual integrated planning exercise. The corporate workforce priority and action plan implementation is integrated with annual directorate business plans.
The Accessibility Action Plan supports the outcome 1 linked to the Modernization Framework namely, a diverse, inclusive and high-performing workforce.
Values and Ethics Code
Parks recently renewed its Code of Values and Ethics identifying inclusion as a new value. Communications activities have been developed to support its rollout in the coming months.
Appendix B: Governance
|Leadership and Program Management||Committee Governance||Senior Management Engagement|
President & Chief Executive Officer
Employment Equity and Accessibility Program within HREWD
Policy, Coordination and Strategic Direction (PCX)
Senior Management Policy, Coordination & Strategic Direction Committee: SMC- Policy
Human Resources Committee (PCX)
Senior Management Human Resources Committee: SMC-HR
Inclusion Diversity Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) Council
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