Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy 2023 to 2027

Executive Summary

Accessibility Standards Canada came into being in 2019 through the Accessible Canada Act. Our mandate requires that we work to address accessibility barriers in priority areas. We develop standards that identify, prevent, and remove barriers to accessibility.

Accessibility Standards Canada is committed to contribute to the federal sustainable development goals within the framework of its mandate. From the beginning, we have set out to listen to Canadians. This aligns with the disability community’s philosophy, “Nothing without us.” This means that people with disabilities must be involved in the work that we do.

All of our standards are developed by technical committees. Membership is open to all eligible Canadians. More than 50% of the members of our Board of Directors, 58% of the members of our technical committees, and over 25% of our employees live with a disability. On account of this, our work is informed and guided by people with lived experience.

In addition, all of our standards are reviewed by the public before they are published. This allows us to listen to Canadians and consider their ideas and views to inform our standards. This helps us to take action to reduce inequities by developing standards that address barriers to accessibility.

Accessibility Standards Canada has developed a strategy to take concrete action to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. Our multi-approach strategy includes increasing research funding for Indigenous-specific accessibility issues, conducting tailored outreach and engagement activities, and providing cultural awareness training to our staff. This will help build bridges and put us on a path toward reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. This is in line with federal sustainable development goal 10.

We develop standards that address barriers to improve the quality of life and well-being of people with disabilities. This includes barriers to employment, built environment, and design and delivery of accessible programs and services, among others. This shows our commitment to a more equitable and sustainable Canada. It is also in line with the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy.

Section 1: Introduction to the Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy

Photo of a green landscape with trees and a stream running through it. Credit: Rhonda Steed

The 2022 to 2026 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy presents the Government of Canada’s sustainable development goals and targets, as required by the Federal Sustainable Development Act. This is the first Federal Sustainable Development Strategy to be framed using the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. It provides a balanced view of the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development.

The purpose of the Federal Sustainable Development Act is to create a legal framework that makes decision-making related to sustainable development more transparent and accountable to Parliament. In line with this, Accessibility Standards Canada supports the goals laid out in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy. We are putting this support into action through the activities described in this departmental strategy.

The Act sets out 7 principles. As required by the Act, these principles were considered in the development of both the federal strategy and our departmental strategy. The federal strategy is aimed at promoting coordinated action on sustainable development across the government. It does this by advancing Canada’s 2030 Agenda National Strategy. That strategy is supported by both the United Nations’ Global Indicator Framework(GIF) and the Canadian Indicator Framework (CIF) for the Sustainable Development Goals.

Our departmental strategy also captures sustainable development initiatives that fall outside the scope of the federal strategy. In addition, it is intended to inform Canada’s Annual Report on its 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Section 2: Accessibility Standards Canada’s Departmental Sustainable Development Strategy

About Us

Accessibility Standards Canada is a departmental corporation created in 2019 through the Accessible Canada Act. Our mandate is to develop “standards that address accessibility barriers.” We are an accredited standards development organization. This means our standards can be recognized as National Standards of Canada. This positions us to be a global leader that can influence others on accessibility matters.

Accessibility Standards Canada’s sustainable development strategy is linked to its mission and core values. Our values inform our work. Our objective is to create a more equitable Canada. A sustainable Canada calls for all Canadians, including those with disabilities, to contribute to the economic, social, environmental, and political well-being of Canada.


Everyone, including people with disabilities, can expect a Canada without barriers and be sure that opportunities and services are fully accessible.


People with disabilities lead Accessibility Standards Canada to create a Canada without barriers. We collaborate with people with disabilities to:

  • create modern accessibility standards in priority areas
  • revise current accessibility standards
  • lead research, and
  • support society to reach the highest level of accessibility.


Our values are based on the principles stated in the Accessible Canada Act .

  • We value the knowledge and experience of people with disabilities. We expect those we collaborate to also value this.
  • We value the diversity of society. Our work respects human rights and focuses on including everyone.
  • We value a Canada without barriers where people with disabilities can expect the same high level of access across the country.
  • We value universal access where services, products, and places are designed to be accessible to everyone.
  • We value two-way communication in all areas of our work. Communication must be open, accessible, timely, and clear.
  • We value lived experience of disability and research. These are equally important when making decisions.

How We Contribute to Sustainable Development

We are committed to fulfilling our mandate: to develop standards that address inequalities faced by people with disabilities. This is a significant contribution to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduce Inequality Within and Among Countries. In addition, through the standards we develop, we contribute indirectly to other Sustainable Development Goals highlighted in this report.

Section 3: Listening to Canadians

The government invited the public to comment on the draft 2022 to 2026 Federal Sustainability Development Strategy. This consultation was required under the Federal Sustainable Development Act. It was held from March 11 to July 9, 2022. The draft strategy was also shared with appropriate committees in both houses of Parliament, the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, and the Sustainable Development Advisory Council for their review and comment.

More than 700 comments were received from a range of stakeholders. This included comments from local communities, all levels of government, non-governmental and Indigenous organizations, academics, and businesses. Individual Canadians of different ages and backgrounds also commented.

More information on the results of the public review can be found in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy Consultation Report.

What We Heard

Canadians Want to Be Part of the Solution on Matters that Affect Them

Accessibility Standards Canada identified priorities and issues that affect Canadians with disabilities.

Our mandate is to develop or revise accessibility standards. The key to achieving this is funding research that informs our standards. This starts by listening to Canadians. This ensures we develop standards that support and address the barriers that people with disabilities face.

The disability community’s overriding principle, “Nothing without us” helps us to focus our programs. It is the reason why we ensure that people with disabilities are informed about the standards we develop. It is also why we ask people with disabilities to comment on the work we do and why we involve people with disabilities at all stages of standards development. This includes the process of deciding which standards should be developed.

Lived Experience Is as Important as Research

The lived experience of people with disabilities is as valuable as research. It is therefore vital that we consider the lessons learned from such lived experience when developing standards. We make it a priority to seek feedback from the Canadian public on each standard we develop.

What We Did

Ensured Technical Committees Are Inclusive

Technical committees drive the standards development process. We take an inclusive approach when forming a committee. We encourage Canadians from diverse backgrounds, including technical experts, people from disability communities, and industry representatives to join our technical committees. We seek to achieve proportional representation of the Canadian population on every committee. We issue public requests for members. Membership is open to all Canadians regardless of gender, ethnicity or race, sexuality, social or economic status, political affiliation, or any other factor.

Held Annual Public Meetings

Our programs are informed by the priority areas stated in the Accessible Canada Act. They are also informed by the feedback we receive from disability groups and the public. To ensure the public, including people with disabilities, participates in our work, we hold an annual public meeting every year. These meetings are used to share our priorities with Canadians. They are also an opportunity to hear about our standards and provide feedback on what we do and the impact of our work.

Conducted Public Reviews of Standards

We hold a public consultation during the development of a standard. This is a mandatory part of our process; no standard can be finalized until it has been reviewed by the public. These public reviews give people with disabilities and other stakeholders a chance to get involved, engage with us, and provide feedback on our standards.

The following table lists the standards currently under development. It also lists the expected dates for public reviews.

Table 1: Standards Under Development
Name of technical standard Expected date for public review Expected publication date
Outdoor Spaces Summer 2023 Summer 2024
Plain Language Winter 2023 Spring 2024
Employment Summer 2023 Fall 2024
Information and Communication Technology Products and Services Fall 2023 Winter 2024
Emergency Measures Winter 2024 Spring 2025
Emergency Egress (Exit) Fall 2024 Winter 2026
Wayfinding and Signage Fall 2024 Winter 2026
A Model Standard for the Built Environment – Accessibility for Federally Regulated Entities as Defined in the Accessible Canada Act Spring 2025 Spring 2026


We are committed to developing standards that will contribute to sustainable development goals that help to eliminate inequities, reduce poverty, and improve the overall health and well-being of people with disabilities across Canada.

Launched the Pan-Canadian Forum

In October 2022, Accessibility Standards Canada and British Columbia’s Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction co-hosted the first Pan-Canadian Forum on Accessibility Standards. The Forum was well attended. Representatives from every province and territory participated either in person or virtually. The Forum was an opportunity for provinces and territories to come together to share information, discuss priorities, and work toward common goals. Each jurisdiction shared information about its work in accessibility and/or accessibility standards.

The Forum had two successful outcomes. Firstly, we identified shared priorities and areas of collaboration and alignment. Secondly, we established two task groups. Both groups include representatives from all provinces and territories. One group is creating a guide for accessibility in northern, rural, and remote communities. The second group is creating a guide on adaptive housing and associated costing.

Supported Employment for People With Disabilities

To address financial insecurity and poverty among people with disabilities, we developed a standard on employment. This standard seeks to encourage the active and inclusive participation of people with disabilities at every phase of the employment journey. It addresses multiple areas. This includes recruitment, onboarding, retention, accommodations for individuals, return-to-work policies, performance management, career development, advancement, and exit.

When it comes to hiring people with disabilities, Accessibility Standards Canada leads by example. An estimated 25% of our employees are people with disabilities. To support them, we created a model office space that offers best practices in accessibility.

We participate in interdepartmental networks and working groups that focus on hiring people with disabilities. For example, we worked closely with the federal interdepartmental Human Resources Advisory Committee on People with Disabilities. We also worked with the Employment Accessibility Resource Network, which focuses on increasing employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Created a Tailored Approach to Indigenous Engagement

Accessibility Standards Canada recognizes that every Indigenous group and community is unique. Therefore, our approach is to incorporate place-based perspectives. This enables us to harness Indigenous knowledge systems to tailor programs to needs. We are also tailoring our engagement strategy to facilitate agreements on adopting and harmonizing standards.

As part of this strategy, we will promote our research funding program to Indigenous Peoples, territories, nations, organizations, and communities. This will be done to increase research on accessibility issues that are specific to Indigenous Peoples.

We also strive to include Indigenous individuals on our technical committees; currently, 5% of members self-identify as Indigenous.

Section 4: Accessibility Standards Canada’s Commitments

Description: 3 icons which represent the Sustainable Development Goals that the Accessibility Standards Canada is pledging to implement. Icon 1: Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities. Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. Icon 3: Climate Action.

Goal 10: Advance Reconciliation on Indigenous Peoples and Take Action on Inequality

Federal Sustainable Development Strategy Context

Icon 1: Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities.

This goal focuses on addressing inequalities within First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities.

Our mandate is to develop standards that address accessibility barriers for all Canadians with disabilities. To do this, we draw on the experience and expertise of people with disabilities from across the country. Part of this includes recognizing the unique history of Indigenous Peoples and being aware there are individuals with disabilities who are Indigenous.

We apply an intersectional lens during stakeholder engagement. We also work to ensure the standards development and review processes are open and inclusive.

We are putting a new Indigenous engagement strategy in place to empower Indigenous voices. We will take a multidimensional approach that will focus on our consultative and standards development processes. It will also impact our procurement policies. We will increase our knowledge of the accessibility issues faced by Indigenous people. We will consider their unique history and design programs to address their needs.

Target theme: Advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities.

Target: Between 2023 and 2026, and every year thereafter, we will produce an annual progress report on implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

See tables 2 and 3 below for details on the actions we will take.

Table 2: Advancing Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Communities
Implementation Strategy Departmental Action Performance Indicator Starting Point Target Contribution to FSDS Goals and 2030 Agenda
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act. 1. Increase funding for Indigenous focused accessibility research projects. Percentage of research funding dedicated to Indigenous focused accessibility research projects.  2% of research funding is allocated to Indigenous accessibility research projects as of 2023.  4% of research funding will be allocated to Indigenous accessibility research projects as of 2025 to 2026 fiscal year.

Increasing funding to research Indigenous-specific accessibility issues will reduce inequalities for Indigenous people living with disabilities. 

*Relevant Canadian Indicator Framework  Ambition: Canadians live free of discrimination and inequalities are reduced.

This action aligns with Canadian indicator 10.2.1: Proportion of the population reporting discrimination or unfair treatment.

It also aligns with the Global Indicator Framework target 10.3: Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome. This includes eliminating discriminatory laws, policies, and practices. It also includes promoting appropriate legislation, policies, and actions. 

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

2.Execute a mandatory indigenous awareness training program for all employees.  Percentage of employees who have attended mandatory Indigenous awareness training.

25% of employees are trained as of 2023 to 2024 fiscal year.

100% of employees are fully trained by March 2026. 

This action is meant to increase cultural awareness of issues related to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people in Canada. Increasing understanding of the unique history and rights of Indigenous Peoples will improve the cultural sensitivity of employees. It will also empower them with the skills needed to implement the UN Declaration. 

Relevant Canadian Indicator Framework Ambition: Canadians live free of discrimination and inequalities are reduced.

Indicators: As per action 1 (above), this contributes to Canadian indicator 10.2.1 and global indicator 10.3.1.

Table 3: Initiatives Planned to Reduce Inequalities

Planned Initiatives

Associated Domestic Targets, Ambitions, and Global Targets

Accessibility Standards Canada will develop effective working relationships with provinces and territories. This will include working with Indigenous bodies. We will do this to promote harmonization and/or alignment of accessibility standards among different levels of government. This will be done by putting memoranda of understanding in place. Their purpose is to encourage other jurisdictions to adopt or adapt the accessibility standards we develop.

We continue to seek partnerships to advance the development of accessibility standards. Most recently, we partnered with the CSA Group to develop and publish the following standards:

Accessibility Standards Canada is a federal government agency. We foster collaboration and partnerships with provincial and territorial governments, government agencies, the private sector, and local communities. We do this to support sustainable development goals that advance the removal of accessibility barriers.

We also partner with other government agencies responsible for implementing the Accessible Canada Act . One of these partners is the Accessibility Commissioner. These partnerships are vital to removing inequalities.

This aligns with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals.

Our mandate is to develop accessibility standards. We have several standards under development. These will be completed over the next 3 to 5 years. Our Employment standard (CAN-ASC-1.1), for example, defines employment parameters. This will help people with disabilities to find meaningful work and fully participate in the economy.

Accessibility Standards Canada is working to ensure that people with disabilities can find meaningful employment. This promotes inclusive and sustainable economic participation and growth for all. Our Employment standard contributes to Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities because it advocates for employment equity for people with disabilities.

We are currently developing the following standards:

These standards will reduce inequities, as highlighted in Goal 10, global indicator 10.3.1 In addition, they will ensure the safety, and well-being of Canadians with disabilities.

For people with disabilities, these standards will ensure safe access to buildings and outdoor spaces. They will also improve access to services and the delivery of goods. This contribution is highlighted in Goal 11, global indicator 11.7.1.

Accessibility Standards Canada is developing a guide on adaptable housing. The objective of the guide is to support provincial and territorial efforts to develop adaptable housing for aging in place. This includes housing in Indigenous communities. This will support people with disabilities.

This guide contributes to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities.

The Canadian Indicator Framework for the Sustainable Development Goal 10 refers to the need to eliminate inequities. It also refers to Canadians being able to live free of discrimination. This includes everyone, regardless of age; gender; disability; race, ethnicity, or origin; religion; and economic, social, and other factors.

Goal 12: Reduce Waste and Transition to Zero-Emission Vehicles

Icon 1: Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

Federal Sustainable Development Strategy Context

The management of waste, resources, and chemicals requires responsible consumption. Responsible consumption is an attitude. It involves making well-reasoned decisions about the products we buy. It means considering a product’s environmental, social, and economic benefits. Sustainable consumption and production aim to “do more and better with less.” This will increase the net benefit of economic activity. By reducing resource use, environmental degradation, and pollution. 

Accessibility Standards Canada has adopted the federal government’s green procurement policy. This aligns with the general procurement policy for the public service. We work towards increasing the sourcing of recycled materials. There are recycling bins in the office for staff use. In addition, our faucets and lighting fixtures are automated. This reduces unnecessary water and electricity usage. 

Target theme: Management of waste, resources, and chemicals.

Target: Reduce the amount of waste Canadians send to disposal from a baseline of 699 kilograms per person in 2014 to 490 kilograms per person by 2030 (a 30% reduction), and to 350 kilograms per person by 2040 (a 50% reduction). This target was set by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the federal lead in the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment.

See Table 4 for details on the actions we are taking to support this target.

Table 4: Management of Waste, Resources, and Chemicals

Implementation Strategy

Departmental Action

Performance Indicator

Starting Point


Contribution to FSDS Goals and Canada’s 2030 Agenda

Strengthen green procurement criteria.

Ensure all procurement and materiel management specialists are trained in green procurement within one year of being identified. For example, procurement specialists being trained through the Canada School of Public Service course on green procurement, or equivalent.

Percentage of procurement specialists who received training within one year of being identified.

50% as of fiscal year 2023 to 2024.

100% of procurement specialists receive training within one year of being identified as of March 2025.

Relevant Canadian Indicator Framework Ambition: Canadians consume in a sustainable manner.

Canadian indicator 12.2.1: Proportion of businesses that adopted selected environmental protection activities and management practices.

Global Target 12.7: Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities.

Table 5: Planned Initiatives to Reduce Waste

Planned Initiatives

Associated Domestic Targets
or Ambitions and/or Global Targets

Accessibility Standards Canada is currently developing a standard on the Design and Delivery of Accessible Programs and Services. Its objective is to ensure that people with disabilities can access the goods and services that accommodate their needs.

Designing products for people with disabilities is an opportunity to embrace diversity. It also drives innovation and creates a more inclusive society. Consumers of the products and services are considered and/or involved at every stage of the production cycle of the products and services.

By incorporating user-centric, accessible, and universal design principles, businesses can create products that resonate with a larger and more diverse audience. This will increase the social impact and bottom line of businesses. It will also improve inclusivity, sustainability and reduce waste.

This standard contributes to Canadian indicator 12.2.1: Proportion of businesses that adopted selected environmental protection activities and management practices.

Goal 13: Take Action on Climate Change and its Impacts

Icon 3: Goal 13 Climate Action.

Federal Sustainable Development Strategy Context

Sustainable Development Goal 13 advocates for action to combat climate change and its impacts. Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives. It is costing people, communities, and countries dearly.

Recent storms, fires, and mudslides are a reminder that urgent action is needed to address climate change. Accessibility Standards Canada is committed to developing standards that not only address accessibility barriers, but also mitigate climate change and its impacts, particularly on people with disabilities.

Target theme: Adapting to and mitigating climate change.

Target: By 2030, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% to 45% below 2005 levels. By 2050, achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Accessibility Standards Canada does not own a fleet of vehicles; however, we are adopting policies that help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Table 6: Initiatives Advancing Canada’s Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Action

Implementation Strategy

Departmental Action

Performance Indicator

Starting Point


Contribution to Federal Sustainable Development Strategy Goals and Canada’s 2030 Agenda

Implement the Greening Government Strategy by putting measures in place that:

  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • improve climate resilience
  • help green governmental operations.
  1. Identify relevant employees that need to be trained on climate change.
  2. Within 1 year of being identified, relevant employees are trained on climate change. This will include training on assessing impacts, undertaking risk assessments, and developing adaptive actions.

The percentage of identified employees trained on climate change, as detailed under Departmental Action.

0% trained as of 2023-2024 fiscal year

100% trained by March 2026.

Trained staff can:

  • identify risks to the delivery of critical programs, and
  • develop responses to ensure program continuity and improvement of operational resilience to the impacts of climate change.

Canadian AmbitionCanadians are well equipped and resilient to face the effects of climate change. Indicator 13.3

Global Target 13.3: Improve education, awareness raising, and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning.


Table 7: Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation

Planned Initiatives

Associated Domestic Targets or Ambitions and/or Global Targets

Accessibility Standards Canada has been a federal leader in creating a sustainable office space that uses universal design. This space is safer and more flexible and accessible for employees of varied ages and abilities.

The office space has automated lighting and water faucets, reducing water and electricity usage. We have also adopted a hybrid working policy. This reduces staff commuting time, which lowers the emission of greenhouse gases and vehicular carbon.

These actions correspond to Canadian Indicator Framework indicator 13.1.1. This indicator advocates for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Section 5: Integrating Sustainable Development

Image #2 is a photo of a young girl happily watering a vegetable garden and two men in the background that seem to be watching her as they walk by. Credit Ryan Bray - Parks Canada

Accessibility Standards Canada is committed to contributing to federal sustainable development goals that fall within its mandate. We will continue to listen to Canadians through our annual public meetings and public reviews of the standards we develop.

We will continue to build inclusive technical committees and publicly invite Canadians to join them.

We will continue to build partnerships and engage with all our stakeholders. These include disability groups and communities, the private sector, governments (local, municipal, provincial, territorial), and other federal agencies. This aligns with Federal Sustainable Development Strategy Goal 17. This goal encourages establishing partnerships with multiple stakeholders to ensure sustainable development goals are met.

We will increase research funding for projects focused on addressing the accessibility barriers faced by Indigenous people. We will step up our outreach to Indigenous communities. These efforts are meant to build bridges toward Indigenous reconciliation and reduce inequalities. This will help us contribute to Federal Sustainable Development Strategy Goal 10.

We have planned activities to meet the goals of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy. These include increasing training to support green procurement and the assessment of climate change impacts. We will review our policies and practices to ensure our consumption of office supplies and furnishings aligns with Federal Sustainable Development Strategy Goal 12, which focuses on waste reduction responsible consumption and production.

When an approved Accessibility Standards Canada initiative (such as a policy, plan, or program) has undergone a strategic environmental assessment, we will publicly announce the results. This is to show that we considered the potential environmental effects before deciding to proceed.