News release

Changes Require New Restaurants to Be Accessible

Government is committed to building an inclusive province by 2030, in part, by ensuring accessibility is considered when policies, programs and services are developed and delivered.

Soon, any new restaurants, cafés, lunch counters and delis must be accessible to all Nova Scotians. In order to get a food safety permit, any new restaurant with seating will need to have accessible entrances, pathways and washrooms. These changes will be paired with updated Nova Scotia Building Code requirements around accessibility, which take effect Oct. 31.

These changes will apply to new eateries opening in a new space, or spaces that have not been used as a restaurant in the past 12 months. If a restaurant is undergoing major renovations, these changes may also apply.

Accessibility advocates, building owners, the restaurant industry and several government departments took part in a restorative process to address washroom accessibility in restaurants. This process began in 2019.

“Ensuring any new restaurant opening in the province is accessible is a positive step forward to achieving a more inclusive Nova Scotia,” said Environment Minister Gordon Wilson. “This is a first and important step, and we are committed to working with stakeholders as we consider additional changes that support improved accessibility.”


The Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia was pleased to participate in the restorative process. We support having all new restaurants accessible, and eventually, as many restaurants as possible. This is an important and positive step forward to improve accessibility for all people. Gordon Stewart, executive director, Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia

Quick Facts:

  • in September 2018, a Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission board of inquiry ruled that Nova Scotia Environment must require restaurants to have accessible washrooms for the public under its Food Safety Regulations

Additional Resources:

Government of Nova Scotia Accessibility Plan (2018–2021) is available at