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Accessibility Plan (2023 to 2025): Introduction

Message from the deputy heads and champion for Persons with Disabilities at the CBSA

The Accessible Canada Act (the act) is a significant advancement for disability rights in Canada. This legislation was designed to build a system that is resilient, adaptable, and responsive to the needs of the disability community and to address emerging barriers that come with our changing economy, culture and technology.

Bringing “Nothing Without Us” into action creates a legal requirement to ensure the participation of persons with disabilities in the development and implementation of all programs and policies that impact their lives. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is proud of the work it has done to-date in ensuring fair and equitable access to its programs and services, and looks forward to continue engaging with its diverse stakeholders to succeed in achieving a barrier-free CBSA.

A barrier-free CBSA starts with its employees. Over the coming years, CBSA will continue to invest in recruiting, developing and retaining a diverse workforce so that its population will be representative of Canada’s diversity. Having a representative workforce will have ripple effects on CBSA’s ability to deliver high quality and effective programs and services. To get there, we are strengthening our commitment to inclusion by making investments in transforming our culture. In 2018, we launched a culture transformation strategy that is focused on achieving a healthy workplace culture. Ultimately, we seek to reach our goal of being One Team founded on trust.

During the pandemic, we witnessed first-hand the strength that trust had in creating psychologically safe workplaces, where employees value and care for each other. This shared sense of purpose allowed the agency to continue to deliver important programs and services to Canadians during one of the most turbulent times in history. We are eager to build on the lessons learned during the pandemic to continue building an inclusive and barrier-free CBSA.

We are pleased to share this inaugural accessibility plan which serves as a roadmap for how we will support the priorities outlined in the act and the Accessible Transportation Planning and Reporting Regulations. They provide a concrete starting point for action as a service provider and as an employer. With the application of the accessibility plan, the CBSA will create a system that recognizes accessibility as everyone’s responsibility. Employees and clients of the CBSA will be able to rely on a proactive and systematic approach to reducing barriers, as well as the systems and structures that perpetuate them.

The agency is committed to building a brighter future by including the expertise and lived experience of persons with disability in all aspects of our work and the development and implementation of our Accessibility Plan.


Erin O’Gorman, President, CBSA. Erin is a woman with short brown hair.

Erin O’Gorman

Ted Gallivan, Executive Vice-President. Ted is a male with short brown hair.

Ted Gallivan
Executive Vice-President

Shawn Hoag, Champion for Persons with Disabilities. Shawn is a male with short, sandy blonde hair.

Shawn Hoag
Champion for Persons with Disabilities


About the CBSA

The CBSA facilitates the flow of legitimate travellers and goods. The agency also enforces more than 100 acts and regulations that keep our country and population safe. The agency has a broad service delivery and infrastructure footprint across Canada and around the world, with over 1,200 different access points.

The CBSA operates in a complex and dynamic environment where it must respond to emerging threats and global trends, while remaining steadfast and vigilant in its commitment to protect the security of Canada’s people, economy and infrastructure. To deliver on its mandate, the CBSA strives to be proactive, adaptive and innovative. It does this by constantly evolving its operations, modernizing its technological capabilities and mobilizing its people.

Accessibility statement

The act offers a path towards independence, autonomy and equal opportunity for persons with disabilities and the CBSA is determined to demonstrate its leadership in its first accessibility plan. This plan will benefit all residents of Canada as it serves as a roadmap for improving accessibility in all of its programs and services.

The CBSA has embarked on a transformation of its workplace culture in 2018 that has already had a positive impact for employees and persons with disabilities. There has been an increase in the positive response rate to key questions in the Public Service Employee Survey related to respect and inclusion. When asked whether employees feel they are being treated with respect, the positive response rate has increased by 9% for persons with disabilities. We are proud of the work we have done to date to build a foundation of trust in our organization. However, we know that there is more work to be done as persons with disabilities continue to face signficant barriers in the workplace and in society. We look forward to continue building on this foundation, as we further integrate accessibility considerations in everything we do.

A fundamental element of this plan is the participation of persons with disabilities from the beginning. We ensured that the persons with disabilities community was invited to fully partake in its creation and to guide its design from a persons with lived experience perspective. Additionally, the team responsible for leading the development of accessibility plan at CBSA is well represented by persons with disabilities. People who have disabilities or lived experiences will continue to advise and contribute to the plan’s implementation as well as help identify, prevent and remove barriers to ensure inclusivity for our travellers, our clients and our employees.

This is an image of a paint pallet with the title in the center and seven circles surrounding the title. Each circle is an aspect of this accessibility action plan. They include: employee experience, built environment, communications, procurement, information technology, policy and programs, and service delivery.
Text version: The 7 pillars

People, culture, change management

  1. Employment
  2. Built environment
  3. Communications
  4. Procurement
  5. Information technology
  6. Policy and programs
  7. Service delivery

To lead the agency on the advancement of accessibility initiatives, an Accessibility Office (AO) was established in . The AO serves as the hub for all matters related to accessibility and supported the Director General Taskforce for Accessibility in the development of the Accessibility Plan. The Accessibility Plan is centered around the 7 key priority areas as outlined in the act. These pillars include employment, built environment, procurement, communications, client services, information technology, policies and programs and service delivery. Related to this includes the agency’s responsibilities as a transportation service provider, and our responsibilities under the Accessible Transportation for Person with Disability Regulations.

Foundational to the success of this work is consideration for the agency’s organizational culture and change management strategy. CBSA’s accessible minded culture will serve as the unifying thread that weaves through all 7 pillars of work.

Contact us

While we will continue to engage with stakeholders and hold consultations to evolve our plan each year, we welcome ongoing feedback. Feedback will be incorporated in our progress report and help us evolve our action plans.

Please provide your feedback on our plan to the following:

Director, Workforce Equity and Inclusion Programs
Accessibility Office
Canada Border Services Agency
191 Laurier Ave W
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0L8


Engagement with those with lived experiences and experts in the field is at the core of our work. In developing this plan, we consulted with a range of stakeholders as well as used research and information from other consultations with persons with disabilities to minimize consultation fatigue within the community. We are taking the time to listen and learn to ensure that persons with disabilities are a part of developing the solutions needed to make CBSA barrier free.

We launched our consultation process internally with numerous consultation sessions that were fully accessible. For a detailed report of what was heard during these consultations, see Annex A.

To build a robust and reliable program, we also consulted industry professionals including IT research companies, such as Gartner and InfoTech, and actively participated in federal government communities of practice through the accessibility lens. We consulted Employment and Social Development Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency, both leaders in this field with decades of experience in accessibility and the provision of adaptive technologies. We leveraged these organizations’ best practices and learned from their leaders to launch our program on adaptive technology and IT accessibility compliance.

We worked closely with Shared Service Canada’s Accessibility, Accommodation and Adaptive Computer Technology (AAACT) program, seeking their expert advice and considerations on the development of our accessible IT program while using their programs interchangeably with employees seeking interim solutions.

While we have benefited from those organizations’ best practices and consultations, and from the consultations with our employees, we have also deliberately resourced both the AO, under the Human Resources Branch, and the Accessibility and Adaptive Technology Program, Information, Science and Technology Branch, with employees with disabilities and/or those who have lived experiences.

With regards to our programs and services, we are taking a go-forward approach, which means that as we review existing programs and services, or develop new ones, we will use an accessibility mindset. Persons with disabilities will be engaged and consulted on the development of new programs and activities, and we will ensure that we integrate new accessibility standards as they become available. We will also use the feedback received through the formal feedback process to integrate within our activities. An example of this in action can be found with how we have evolved the ArriveCan application throughout the pandemic to integrate accessibility considerations.

Culture, change management and engagement

Culture change is central to achieving the objectives of the CBSA’s accessibility plan. Organization culture includes changing the expectations for accessibility so that persons with disabilities are included in the planning and development of the policies and programs as well as delivery service of these programs. It is also about supporting the shifting mindset for those employees and managers who have yet to experience what it means to include persons with disabilities in their planning and delivery. Effective, long-term change management is the path to accomplishing those objectives. The Strategic Change Office and Culture Directorate are invested partners in this effort.

To date, the Strategic Change Office has conducted change management assessments and prepared an accessibility change management strategy. That strategy aligns with and complements the CBSA culture change management strategy developed earlier by the change office. Consistent with the views of the accessibility change management strategy, early and ongoing engagement is underway. The agency is committed to transparency and trust building through the creation and sharing of the What We Heard Report (WWHR) through the consultation process with persons with disabilities. This information informs decision making at the strategic and operational levels.

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