Minutes of the Board of Directors’ special meeting – July 7 and 14, 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)
  • Philipe Sarrazin, Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Michelle Demery, Chief Operating Officer (COO)
  • Heather Throop, Senior Advisor
  • Jacques Falardeau, Manager, Standards Development
  • Collinda Joseph, Senior Advisor to the CEO (July 7)
  • Christina Richard, Manager, Communications (July 7)
  • Maggie Saunders, Manager, Governance and Reporting (July 14)
  • Micah Walter, Policy Analyst, Governance and Reporting
  • Lorraine Trudel, Coordinator, Governance and Reporting
  • Gavin Scharfe, Analyst, IM-IT, Administration


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

1. Welcoming remarks and roll call

The meeting opened at 1:30 p.m. with a roll call and words of welcome from the Chairperson. 

2. Board meeting agenda

The Chairperson presented the agenda and added two items under “Other business”:  i) the letters received about Statistics Canada, and ii) Board training on July 9, 2020 for the CEO presentation. 

13-1  Motion presented and seconded to approve the agenda with amendments.

Carried by all.

3. Minutes of Special Board Meetings

Document 3A:  Minutes of May 4, 2020

13-2  Motion presented and seconded to approve the minutes of May 4, 2020.

Carried by all.

Document 3B:  Minutes of May 7, 2020

13-3  Motion presented and seconded to approve the minutes of May 7, 2020 with an amendment to “item 4 - Chairperson’s Update”, to include Laurie Ringaert’s name in the first line of the second paragraph on page 3, as a representative who was part of the Zoom call with the organization Barrier Free Manitoba.

Carried by all.

Document 3C:  Minutes of June 15, 2020

13-4  Motion presented and seconded to approve the minutes of June 15, 2020.

Carried by all.

4. Chairperson’s update

The Chairperson informed Directors of ongoing activities with the Board of Directors.  Each week the Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and the CEO meet to discuss upcoming items for the agenda prior to the meeting. 

The Chairs of Standing Committees met with the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson on June 22, 2020 to discuss their roles within the committees and also in relation to the Board.

The Chairperson received a reminder from Director Bill Adair that June 21, 2020 will mark the first anniversary of the Accessible Canada Act becoming law, and through the work of all parties involved much progress has been realised throughout the past year.  In September 2020, it will be the beginning of the second year mandate for Board members.  It was noted that a number of Board members have two year terms.

5. CEO’s update   

The CEO gave an update on the work and activities taking place at Accessibility Standards Canada on the following items:

Human Resources:  In terms of hiring, the goal is to have significant representation of employees who self-identify as having a disability; much higher than the current labour market availability.  Presently, approximately 33% of Accessibility Standards Canada employees self-identify as having a disability.  It is expected that approximately 20 more people will be hired in the coming year and the hope is that percentage of persons with disabilities will be higher still. 

The organization hired a dedicated person to do all the plain language editing for documentation, as it will be done faster in-house and it will maintain consistency.  This person will also support other activities within the organization.  

Standard Development:  The organization will launch a recruitment initiative to recruit members for the technical committees.  The recruitment process will be promoted through emails, newsletters, and social media. Applications will be accepted until August 4, 2020.  The applications will be reviewed and the committees established by mid-September, and the technical committees would start meeting in October 2020.  The COO informed Board members that the launch announcement will be made “live” on the website on July 8.  Board members who receive requests from outside contacts to join the technical committees should refer them to the organization’s website to register.

Accreditation process:  Accessibility Standards Canada is going forward in obtaining its accreditation through the Standards Council of Canada.  This process would allow the organization to officially be recognized, nationally and internationally, as a Standards Development Organization (SDO). The accreditation process can take from 12 to 18 months.

Communication:  The Annual Report was sent to the Minister in June. It is unclear when it will be tabled. Parliament has limited sitting days scheduled during the summer.  Upon tabling, it will be posted on the website.

Online consultation:  Accessibility Standards Canada will be launching an online consultation process in August that will seek stakeholder feedback from stakeholders on the best mechanisms for engagement and priorities for the next round of standards development and G&C funding.

Website migration:  It will take approximately two months to transfer content and obtain management of the organization’s website. Once this is complete, Accessibility Standards Canada will no longer need to rely on ESDC to modify its website.

Grants and contributions: In 2019 to 2020, following its first call for proposals, the organisation funded 6 projects. The second call for proposals was launched in January 2020 with a deadline to apply on February 28, 2020. The response to the call for proposals was positive. Staff have since assessed and ranked applications.  Recommendations for funding decisions is based on merit. As project proposals were submitted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, discussions with successful applicants on COVID-19 impact on their project will take place prior to the preparation of funding agreements. Should funding be liberated following budget negotiations, allowing the funding of additional projects, proposals with the highest scores will be prioritized as part of a second round.  COVID-19 impacted the timeline and slowed down the process but the program is aiming to have funding agreements in place in the summer.  The Board will be informed of results of this call for proposals once funding agreements are signed with selected applicants.

The organization is also preparing for the next call for research projects proposals starting in 2021 to 2022, which should be launched later this fall. A recommendation will be made to the Board before the launch of the next call for proposals.

New facility:  The new office building is expected to be complete in November or December 2020.  The facility is an example for all accessible work place as it was designed with consideration for the most stringent requirements in terms of accessibility. The building also has exterior modifications for special devices for accessibility.  Artists from the disability community will be invited to exhibit their art. 

Stakeholder guidelines:  For people with disabilities wanting to join the technical committees, there is information on the Accessible Standards Canada’s website under the subtitle “Technical Committees”, under the section “Creating accessibility standards”, which explains that there is a provision for some compensation pertaining to certain expenses. 

6. Strategic Planning Committee update and goals and objectives setting for the CEO for 2020

Document 6A: Goals and objectives setting for the CEO for 2020-2021

The Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, Maureen Haan, outlined the CEO’s goals and objectives setting process for the period of 2020 to 2021. The objective was to develop clear, measurable goals.  Document 6A outlined tangible results and seven levels of accountability with accompanying performance measures.   

The Chair proceeded to explain some of the accountabilities for the CEO. The CEO will be careful not to duplicate the work that is already being done by other SDOs but to enhance the work based on strong partnerships.  He will also work in collaboration with various Canadian Code organizations and work with group representation from the provincial and territorial level.

Other performance measures involved working with provinces that are leaders in accessibility to accelerate the process of standards development and codes across the country. 

13-5   Motion presented and seconded to approve the document “Goals and Objectives Setting for the CEO for 2020 to 2021”.

Carried by all.       

7. Governance Committee update 

The Chair of the Governance Committee, Kory Earle, gave an update on the recent activities of the committee.  The committee will soon distribute to all Board members the latest version of the By-Law and Governance Policy. All comments and suggestions from Board members should be sent to the Chair of the committee by July 22, 2020.  Final approval of the revised versions of these documents is targeted for the fall.

The Chair brought forward Indigenous awareness training for discussion as the training was postponed in hope of doing it at a face-to-face meeting.  Due to COVID-19, the Chair suggested alternative approaches such as videos, focussed discussions and bigger group discussions. The Chairperson recommended that the Governance Committee develops a plan on the process of Indigenous awareness training and to present it for approval at an upcoming Board meeting. The committee will meet to discuss this issue in the coming weeks.

8. External Relations Committee update

Documents 8A: Briefing Note – Tactics 2-3-5 Engagement Approach

The Chair of the External Relations Committee, Penny Hartin, gave a summary of the briefing note 8A.  Following the approval of the stakeholder engagement strategy in May 2020, the committee proceeded to present a stakeholder engagement approach for tactics 2, 3, and 5.  The same questions and processes developed for the Annual Public Meeting will be used for consultation.  On June 30, an email was sent to all stakeholders to ask what is the best way to communicate with them.

In August 2020, the organization will launch a consultation process, which makes use of the website, email, social media and other means to provide input on research possibilities.  The outcome of such outreach will help to determine which topics are of most interest for stakeholders. The information will be compiled to develop the key research priorities. This information will then be presented at the Board meeting in the fall. This is the first phase for the implementation of the approved steps at the Board meeting of May 2020. 

At their next meeting, the committee will also take into account the need to reach at risk groups with disabilities, Indigenous populations in remote areas, and people who have no access to technology.  

Document 8B:  Briefing Note – Accessibility Standards Canada’s Brand Guide

Document 8C:  Accessibility Standards Canada’s Brand Guide

The Chair of the External Relations Committee presented the Accessibility Standards Canada’s Brand Guide for information.  This guide was developed following the approval of the visual identify for the organization at the February 2020 Board meeting.

The Chair explained that the designs presented in the Brand Guide are accessible and compliant with Government of Canada guidelines for accessibilities. The Guide will be used by contractors, designers, and Accessible Standards Canada staff for the visual identity of annual reports, banners, etc. The Chairperson stated that this document is evergreen and recommends that Board members share their comments on it with the committee Chair.  

9. Accessibility Policy and Guidelines

Document 9A:  Accessibility Policy and Guidelines

The Vice-Chairperson presented the document 9A, Accessibility Policy for information.  The first draft was shared in April 2020, and discussed at the May 7, 2020 Board meeting. 

This document is to be used in all aspects of the organization. It will promote consistency in terms of accessibility.  Colour contrast in the document will be increased to be consistent with the Brand Guide.

Directors advised that it would be helpful to reference within the policy where information was obtained.  Furthermore, it is important to ensure the policy uses current terminology, according to experts in the relevant fields.  A suggestion was made to consider changing the statements on page 6, paragraph 2.1 under “Employment”. The statement could be seen as a deterrent for people to ask for accommodation.

All feedback on the document should be sent to the Vice-Chairperson by July 17, 2020, and revisions will be presented at the August 11, 2020 Board meeting.

Special note:   Due to time constraints of this meeting, the Chairperson recommended to adjourn the meeting and to reconvene on July 14 to continue the discussion and present the remaining items.

13-6  Motion presented to continue the meeting on July 14, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.

Meeting adjourned at 4:05 p.m.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

13-7  Motion presented to re-open the meeting. Seconded.

Carried by all.

10. Welcoming remarks and roll call

The meeting opened at 2:00 p.m. with a roll call and words of welcome from the Chairperson.  There is no need to approve the agenda as it is a continuation of the meeting of July 7, 2020, and the agenda was approved.

11. Accessibility Policy and Guidelines (continued from July 7th)

Document:  3A - Accessibility Policy and Guidelines-EN

The Board members continued their review of the Accessibility Policy and Guidelines. The policy is an evergreen document that will be reviewed regularly.  A discussion on making it public ensued. The decision was deferred to later.  Directors also discussed the use of the term “undue hardship” in the policy and if and where it should be used.

All comments for revisions would be sent in by Thursday, July 16, 2020.  

12. Communications Protocol 

Document:  4A – Communications Protocol

The Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson gave an overview of how the Communication Protocol was first created after the September/October 2019 Board meeting. Since then, it has undergone many iterations through consultation with the CEO, the Chairperson and the Vice-Chairperson.  At the June meeting of the Chairs of Standing Committees the document was shared for the first time and since then suggestions have been incorporated.

The annex includes tables and is a quick reference guide to the protocols. The annex will be shared with the Board for the next meeting.

Directors made many suggestions on how to improve the format and content of this document.  Emphasis was put on the importance of incorporating the concept of accessibility in the preamble as well as ensuring this protocol corresponds with the organization’s policies and By-law.

The Chair of the External Relations Committee informed Board members that her committee has a document with a similar title and suggested this document be clearly identified as internal to the organization to avoid confusion. Other Directors expressed similar sentiments and wanted to make it clear the focus of the protocol is Board - CEO communication.

Directors have until July 24 to submit additional comments to the Vice-Chairperson. The final protocol will be ready for the next Board meeting on August 11, 2020.

13. Board Effectiveness Tools

Document:  5A – Board Effectiveness Tools

The Chairperson presented the Board Effectiveness Tool document, for information. The intent of the tool is to facilitate the decision-making process and information flow between the Board and Standing Committees members. 

Suggestions provided earlier by the Governance Committee regarding accessibility were already incorporated into the tool.  Other suggestions were made at the meeting on how to improve the tool.

The Board Effectiveness Tool will be updated to reflect suggestions and shared once more at the next Board meeting.

14. Letters to Statistics Canada

Document:  6A - Letter to Statistics Canada - CAD-ASC

Document:  6B - Letter to Statistics Canada - DWCC-CSSSC

The Chairperson presented two letters by two different organizations that he and the CEO received. Several Board members were copied.  The letter-writers were concerned that accessibility was not considered when Statistics Canada set out surveys regarding COVID-19.  The agencies who forwarded the letters have since been invited by Statistics Canada to help create and implement solutions involving ASL and LSQ.

The CEO stated that discussion with Statistics Canada had taken place to give guidance to accessibility issues; however, Accessibility Standards Canada cannot act as an advocacy group.  A letter will be sent in response to these letters stating we have received their letter and stating this organization’s mandate. 

15. Other business

The Chairperson informed Board members that he was invited by the Governor General Julie Payette to do a live interview for her virtual program on Facebook called “GGConversations”, for a 30-minute segment along with three other panelists.  Discussion would focus on how people with disabilities have been impacted by the pandemic.  The interview is happening Thursday, July 16, 2020 at 2:30 p.m.

16. Concluding remarks

The next Board of Directors meeting will be held August 11, 2020 at 1:30 p.m.

13-8  Meeting was adjourned at 4:20 p.m.

Carried by all.