Minutes of the Board of Directors’ special meeting - December 9 to 11, 2020


Members of the Board of Directors (the Board)

  • Me Paul-Claude Bérubé, Chairperson
  • Mary Reid, Vice-Chairperson
  • William Adair, Director 
  • Kory Earle, Director
  • Maureen Haan, Director
  • Penny Hartin, Director
  • Rabia Khedr, Director 
  • Brad McCannell, Director 
  • Dr. Joe McLaughlin, Director
  • Laurie Ringaert, Director 

Accessibility Standards Canada public officers

  • Philip Rizcallah, Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Heather Throop, Special Advisor
  • Michelle Demery, Senior Director, and Chief Operating Officer (COO)
  • Philipe Sarrazin, Senior Director, and Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Maggie Saunders, Manager, Governance and Reporting (Dec. 11)
  • Micah Walter, A/Senior Policy Analyst, Governance and Reporting (Dec. 9)
  • Lorraine Trudel, Coordinator, Governance and Reporting
  • Anthony Jolicoeur, Coordinator, Governance and Reporting 
  • Christina Richard, Manager, Communications (Dec. 9 and 10)
  • Collinda Joseph, Manager, Standards Development Operations (Dec. 10)
  • Daname Gogue, Manager, Grants and Contributions (Dec. 10)
  • Jacques Falardeau, Manager, Research and Standards Development (Dec. 10)
  • Anne-Marie Lefebvre, Policy Analyst, Stakeholder Engagement (Dec. 10)
  • Graham Spero, Analyst, Stakeholder Engagement (Dec. 10)
  • Gavin Scharfe, Analyst, IM-IT, Administration


  • Eric de Santis, Senior Counsel, Department of Justice Canada (Dec. 11)
  • Michelle Hayman, Counsel, Department of Justice Canada (Dec. 11) 


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

1.    Welcoming remarks and roll call

The meeting opened with a roll call and words of welcome from the Chairperson.  

17-1    Motion presented and seconded to open the meeting at 12:00 p.m.

Carried by all.

2.    Board meeting agenda

Document 2A: Proposed agenda   

The Chairperson presented the agenda and proposed changes in the order of presentation to accommodate designated items for discussion and respect the timing of guests’ presentation.

17-2      Motion presented and seconded to approve the agenda with modifications.

Carried by all.

3.    Performance appraisal committee update – Board assessment report 

17-3      Motion presented and seconded to proceed to the in-camera session to discuss the Board Assessment Report with all Board members and the CEO.  

Carried by all.

17-4      Motion presented and seconded to end the in-camera session and to return to the Board of Directors meeting.

Carried by all.

The Performance Appraisal Committee will provide a summary report of the Board members’ discussion on the Board Assessment Report and provide a copy to all Board members.

4. Minutes of October 8-9, 2020 special board meeting

Document 7A: Minutes (October 8-9, 2020)

17-5Motion presented and seconded to approve the minutes of the Special Board Meeting of October 8 to 9, 2020.

Carried by all.

5. Business arising

None to report. Other information can be found in the Chairperson’s and the CEO’s updates

6. Chairperson’s update     

Document 9A: Chairperson’s report

The Chairperson informed members of ongoing activities and matters such as the Accessibility Standards Canada’s Roadmap to 2040, Board of Directors Assessment Report, Governance Policy, Indigenous Awareness Training and the Standing Committees membership, most of which will be discussed during this December Board meeting.

7. CEO’s update      

Document 10A: CEO’s report

The CEO reported that Accessibility Standards Canada continues to engage with multiple standards development organizations and national code organizations to form partnerships in key standard development areas. These initiatives will serve to enhance the organization’s impact nationally and expedite delivery of standards.

The CEO also informed Board members that staff researched risk management practices of different types of organizations, including departmental corporations and will keep Board members informed on this subject.

The Standards Development team is currently preparing for the launch of recruitment of technical committee members for the emergency egress and employment technical committees. The CEO will update the Board of Directors on this work at the next Board meeting. 

The CEO informed the Board that staff has started working on the Accessibility Standards Canada Departmental Plan for 2021 to 2022 and that it will be submitted to the Board for review and approval prior to its submission to Treasury Board Secretariat on January 22, 2021.

8.    Procurement guidelines 

Document 11A: Briefing note

Document 11B: Procurement guidelines

Document 11C: Annex: Procurement guide 

It was recommended by the Chairperson that this item be postponed. Further study will be done, and all Board members are to send their comments to the CFO and the Vice-Chairperson, as this item will be presented at a future Board meeting.

17-6    Motion presented and seconded to postpone this item for the Board meeting in February 2021.

Carried by all.

9.    Correspondence  

Document 12A:  Letter 1

Document 12B: Letter 2

The Chairperson clarified that the correspondence was shared for information purposes and there is no need for further discussion.  Board members appreciated being informed.

10.     Closing remarks

The Chairperson recommended that all remaining items for the day’s agenda be postponed to the following day’s meeting.

17-7    Motion presented and seconded to adjourn the meeting at 3:20 p.m. and to carry the remainder of the day’s items over to December 10.  The December 10 Board meeting to begin at 11:30 a.m. instead of 12:00 p.m.

Carried by all.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

11.   Welcoming remarks and roll call     

The meeting opened with a roll call and words of welcome from the Chairperson.  

17-8    Motion presented and seconded to open the meeting at 11:30 a.m.

Carried by all.

The Chairperson recommended that the order of the agenda items be changed to begin with the three items related to the PowerPoint presentation 20A (Part I to Part III), and that the outstanding items (#12 to #18 on the agenda) be presented afterward, time permitting.

17-9   Motion presented and seconded to change the order of the agenda as recommended. 

Carried by all.

12.    Results of public engagement   

Documents 20A: Part I: public engagement - key findings from consultations 

The COO, Michelle Demery, explained that the PowerPoint presentation made by her team contained three parts which covered the following topics from the consultations: 

  • public engagement
  • the priorities for the grants and contributions program
  • the priorities for standards development

The manager of Communications and Stakeholder Outreach, Christina Richard, presented how the consultation was done and who participated, as well as Canadians’ preferences for both online and in-person engagement.

The online survey was conducted between September 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020.  A total of 588 people and organizations responded to the survey, with a total of 65% representation from the disability community. Common themes were identified and summarized as key findings. Responses came from all provinces and a few from the territories, except for Nunavut.

Responses in relation to engagement preferences were identified for “in-person accommodations” ranging from built environment accessibility, scent-free environment, CART - real-time translation, to ASL or LSQ, alternative format document, and augmentative communication. Participants also made suggestions for online accessibility features. Other types of accommodations frequently mentioned by participants were identified which will be considered for future annual public meetings. 

A final report of this consultation will be completed in January 2021, and based on its results, consideration will be given to improve upon future surveys. Moving forward, we should explore gathering more demographic data, notably ensuring a representation of various disabilities, caregivers, etc. 

13.    Grants and contributions research priorities 2020-2021

Documents 20A: Part II: Grants and contributions—Research Priorities  

The manager of the Grants and Contributions program, Daname Gogue, presented the findings of the survey on participants’ responses for research priorities. These were related to the seven areas of accessibility priorities contained in the Accessible Canada Act.

Key themes across priority areas were identified such as affordability/cost of living and accommodation, which do not fall within the mandate of Accessibility Standards Canada. Other key themes were identified for research priorities in each of the seven priorities areas. Some priorities fell under the responsibility of other federally regulated entities.

Board members discussed which areas should be chosen as priorities for the next call for proposals for research funding for 2021-22. It is anticipated the call will be launched by the end of January 2021.

17-10 Motion presented and seconded to adopt the six following research priorities:

  • design and delivery of programs and services 
  • built environment with a focus on heritage buildings
  • accessibility in Indigenous communities
  • information and communication technology
  • communication, other than plain language
  • procurement

Carried by all.    

14.    Standard development priorities  

Documents 20A: Part III: Standards development priorities 

The manager responsible for Standards Development, Collinda Joseph, and the manager for Issues Management, Research and Standards Development, Jacques Falardeau, presented this section to inform Board members of the results of the consultations around preferences for standards development. 

In the previous presentation “design and delivery of programs, services and facilities” and “employment” were identified by participants as the preferred choices for research priorities.  For the standards development consultation, participants in the survey identified “employment” and “built environment” as their first choices. Many themes were reported for the areas for standards. 

It was noted that “Information and communication technologies” standards go beyond the scope of Accessibility Standards Canada, as Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunication has the responsibility for these although Accessibility Standards Canada can bring concerns to their attention.  Similarly, priorities for standards in the area of transportation fall under the responsibility of the Canadian Transportation Agency and Transport Canada. As such, Accessibility Standards Canada will also bring these results to their attention.  

Other overarching themes for all priorities were reported such as intersectionality, consistency across provinces and territories, discrimination, and attitudinal barriers, among others.

Accessibility Standards Canada already has technical committees set up for standards development for plain language and outdoor spaces, and is in the process of creating technical committees for employment and emergency egress. Other standards work underway includes:

  • Accessibility Standards Canada to take over the accessibility aspects of the National Building Code 
  • collaboration with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) on the B651 (barrier-free designs)
  • collaboration with the CSA on an accessible electronic payment terminal standard

Director Haan suggested that everyone consult the Covid-19 Disability Advisory Group Report-2020, available on the Canada.ca website, as it contains pertinent information that would complement the work being done by the Standards Development team and technical committees.

Public officers proposed priority areas for standards development for 2021-22, based on the consultation findings and the work underway. A discussion followed to decide which standards would best serve the accessibility community for the coming year.

17-11 Motion presented and seconded that the standards development priorities for the year 2021-22 be:

  • emergency measures 
  • wayfinding including signage 
  • acoustics (built environment) 
  • procurement, to replace the proposed standard for “training and awareness in service delivery”

Carried by all

15.    Strategic planning committee update 

The Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, Maureen Haan, reminded all Board members of her podcast regarding the Accessibility Standards Canada’s Roadmap to 2020.  Ms. Haan informed the Board that an updated Strategic Plan will be ready for the February 2021 Board meeting.  

16.    Governance Committee update and by-law and policies     

  • Document 14A: Committee report
  • Document 15A: Briefing note
  • Document 15B: By-law No. 1
  • Document 15C: Code of conduct and ethics
  • Document 15D: Governance policy
  • Document 15E: Recruitment policy
  • Document 15F: Whistleblower policy

17-12 Motion presented and seconded that items related to the Governance Committee update and the approval of By-law and policies be postponed to the Board meeting in February 2021.

Carried by all.

17.      External relations committee update   

Document 16A: Committee report

Document 16B: Web monthly report - October 2020

The Chair of the External Relations Committee, Penny Hartin, reported that the online consultations were completed with approximately 600 replies, and that a full  report with data and demographics will be completed and shared with Board members.  That report will also be posted online, prior to the next Grants and Contributions call for proposals.

A draft strategy for youth engagement has been prepared. The External Relations Committee will discuss this item at their next committee meeting. Committee members will also discuss the upcoming virtual Annual Public Meeting for 2021 to determine a feasible plan and date. The outcome of these items will be presented at the Board meeting in February. Board members acknowledged that virtual platforms are a useful way to make connections with many stakeholders.

18.    Standing committees appointments       

The Chairperson stated that there will not be any changes to the Standing Committees’ membership until at least the end of August 2021. Half of Directors’ terms come to an end at that point. He suggested that if Board members would like opportunities in other standing committees before then, they should send him their requests. If Board members would prefer a group discussion on this item, a specific time can be set up.  

Consideration of the idea of independent members joining the standing committees can be revisited in future. The Recruitment Policy is already in place.

19.      Other business 

Board members discussed briefly next steps with regard to the discussion of the Board assessment.

20.    Closing remarks   

17-13     Motion presented to adjourn the meeting at 3:20 p.m. and to postpone the conversation about the Board assessment to December 11, 2020.

Carried by all.

Friday, December 11, 2020    

21.      Welcoming remarks and roll call 

The meeting opened with a roll call and words of welcome from the Chairperson.  

17-14 Motion presented and seconded to open meeting at 12:00 p.m. 

Carried by all.

The Chairperson proposed some modifications to the meeting agenda.

17-15 Motion presented and seconded to modify the agenda and add an extra item to determine the new date for a Special Board meeting to review and approve the Departmental Plan in January 2021. 

Carried by all.

22.      Performance Assessment Committee debrief and discussion  

17-16     Motion presented and seconded to proceed to an in-camera session with an invitation to the CEO to be part of the discussion.  

Carried by all.

17-17     Motion presented and seconded to end the in-camera session and to return to the Board meeting.

Carried by all.

23. Roadmap to 2040

The remainder of this section of the Board meeting was devoted to information, understanding and discussion on developing a framework for the Roadmap to 2040 for Accessibility Standards Canada. 

24. Presentations on roadmap to 2040

Document 28A: Legal presentation

Document 28B: Paving the way to 2040

Document 28C: Evolutive chart (2020-2040)

Board members welcomed Eric De Santis and Michelle Hayman, both Counsel from the Department of Justice Canada, who presented a comprehensive review of the relevant sections of the Accessible Canada Act. They covered topics such as developing accessibility standards, reporting and feedback mechanisms, accountability, regulations, enforcement and monitoring, and results. The presentation also outlined the various federal entities who also play a role in the implementation of a barrier-free Canada.

The CFO and the COO from Accessibility Standards Canada proceeded to explain in more detail the steps involved in development and implementation of standards, which involves research, consultations, technical committee work, recommendation to the Minister, regulations, implementation and enforcement, and finally, culture change. It can take up to nine years to see the impact of a standard on society, from the selection of a standard development area through to the desired change in society. An excel table was presented to illustrate the stages involved in the scenario of creating 60 standards in a period of 20 years, and the impact of the various stages. 

The presenters also explained the many key participants involved in the creation of standards such as government officials including ministers, various experts in accessibility standards development, along with support and collaboration from groups such as the Canadian Standards Association and the National Building Code of Canada, and the accessibility communities from across the country. Accessibility Standards Canada would aim to develop a credible process based on scientific and social decisions, which will allow the organization to produce standards at a meaningful pace with consideration of the resources available.

25. Discussion on roadmap to 2040

Based on the information provided in the previous presentation (item no. 24), the Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, Maureen Haan, facilitated a discussion with all Board members to share their ideas and recommendations with regard to the creation of a framework for the Roadmap to 2040.

Directors proceeded to consider the seven priority areas for a barrier-free Canada, identified by the Accessibility Canada Act. The organization also needs to focus on three specific areas of its mandate (standards development; guidelines and tools to help implement the standards; and research on best practices) and to select how these would be best applied to the priority areas in the timeframe allocated.

The Roadmap will be an ongoing process to be revised and adapted based on results over time. It was agreed that the highlights of this discussion will be provided to the consultant who will be hired to assist in the development of the Roadmap.  The Strategic Planning Committee will still lead the work, with the assistance of the consultant and will engage the Board in the process. The contract will begin in January and wrap up in the spring. The Roadmap will be presented to all Board members for approval once it is ready.

26. Other business

It was agreed by all Board members to hold a Special Board meeting on Friday, January 8, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. to review and approve the Departmental Plan for 2021 to 2022. Another Board meeting will be scheduled in February 2021, with dates to be determined, to review the regular items and all other outstanding items postponed from this December Board meeting.  

27. Concluding remarks

17-18 Motion presented to adjourn the meeting at 3:20 p.m.

Carried by all.