Canadian Human Rights Act

The goal of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) of 1977 is to ensure equality of opportunity and freedom from discrimination in areas under federal jurisdiction. It is against the law for any employer, employee organization or service provider that falls under federal jurisdiction to make unlawful distinctions based on the following grounds: disability, race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status and conviction for which a pardon has been granted. Matters related to the CHRA are addressed through the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC). This commission investigates complaints of discrimination and monitors programs, policies, and legislation that affect designated groups to ensure that their human rights are protected.

More specifically, the government of Canada requires that all federal agencies share a Common Look and Feel (CL&F standards) for federal internet/intranet sites and electronic networks. The CL&F standards are designed to guarantee that all Canadians are given equal access to all content on the government of Canada web sites. Accordingly, Canadian government web sites must be designed and information made accessible in such a way that a wide range of technologies, such as personal computers and assistive devices, can be used.

To set up these standards, the Treasury Board Secretariat Internet Advisory Committee established the Common Look and Feel Working Group (CLFWG) in June 1998. The CLFWG consisted of 75 individuals with expertise in electronic information technology dissemination and included more than 50 Canadian government institutions. In January 2000, this group tabled its reports and recommendations with the Treasury Board Secretariat. Subsequently, the Treasury Board Ministers approved the CL&F standards and guidelines and required all government institutions to comply with them by December 31, 2002.

Like the WCAG, the CL&F standards give direction to web designers to ensure that all site content is available to all users. The CL&F standards are the model for how the Canadian Government will provide electronic information technology to its employees and citizens now and in the future.

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